January Shorts

As usual on the fourth Monday of the month, it’s time to lighten things up and enjoy one of my many dizzy blonde moments. Here’s another winner…

My family has always told me that I spend half my time living in my own little world. This has never been more true than during the last year while I’ve been writing my novel. I’ve spent five days a week, eight to ten hours a day living in the fictional village of Jubilee, Michigan, with characters from my imagination. And when I’m not writing about them, I’m thinking about them. Sometimes, I almost forget which world is real and which is all in my head.

And sometimes, I completely forget.

When I’m suffering from writer’s block, I often close my computer and get out of the house, hoping a change of scenery will jump-start my creativity. On one of those boutique-646295_960_720days, I decided to drive to Kohls Department Store to see if shopping for new clothes might help. Armed with a thirty-percent-off coupon, I strode through the automatic doors and scanned the store, wondering where to start my discount adventure. That’s when I noticed a couple from church, Norina and John, standing at the check-out counter.

I walked up to the counter and gave them both a hug.

John held up a bag. “I just picked up some things for vacation.”

“We’re going to Florida,” Norina said, “and John needed a few more pairs of shorts.”

“Wow,” I said. “I bet it’ll be nice wearing shorts again.”

They both gave me odd looks. Finally John spoke. “Well, I guess, although we’ve prettysnowy-street-554957_960_720 much been wearing shorts until last week.”

Now it was my turn to give them an odd look. What were they talking about? The temperatures had been well below freezing for weeks, with snow piled high and people bundled to the hilt to ward off the icy wind.

As we stared at each other, it finally hit me.

I wasn’t in Jubilee, Michigan, where my fictional character was currently enduring autumn leaves-1363766_960_720another sub-zero January day while she slipped on ice and watched her dog’s slobber freeze. No, I was just down the road from my non-fictional home in Romeo, Michigan, on a pleasant October afternoon.

“Ah, well, yes, of course,” I said, trying to cover my stupidity (though, obviously, not very well). “I just meant, like, still wear shorts, again, you know?”

“Oh, sure,” Norina said after a pause. “That’s true.”

One of the many things I love about Christian people is their remarkable ability to respond with grace when someone has clearly lost their mind.

I wished them a safe trip and scurried to the misses section, thinking about what a ding-dong I was. And worse, I was thinking about Norina and John thinking about what a ding-dong I was. The next time we met, would they act like they were uncomfortable around me? Speak to me in simple, one-syllable words?

When I saw them a few weeks later, Norina and John greeted me with their customary hug and warmth, and told me all about their wonderful trip to Florida. Never, ever, did they bring up my bumbling comment or make me feel foolish.

It’s almost a year later, and sometimes I still think about my encounter with Norina and John at Kohls, especially when people say things to me that would be perfect for their own version of “Dizzy Blonde Chronicles.” And, if I don’t know these people well enough to engage in some friendly teasing and instead find myself tempted to roll my eyes or look at them as if they grew two heads, I remember the grace that Norina and John extended to me. And I try to do the same.

Come to think of it, I’ve never thanked Norina and John for their unconditional love or told them how much I value their example of how to act like Jesus.

Until now.

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The Dentist Dilemma

cropped-img_3836.jpgI’m kind of a fanatic about having my teeth cleaned every six months. It probably has something to do with my husband’s graduate school years, when we couldn’t afford a visit to the dentist, and the hard chunk I found in my pizza after he finally received his Ph. D. and got his first job. As it turned out, the chunk was a piece of tooth.

My tooth.

I ended up with a crown not only over that molar but two others as well. Since then, I’m a regular visitor to the dentist.

As most of you already know, I have an inner ear disorder. Fortunately, due to lots of prayer, avoiding sodium and caffeine, and my current medication, I’ve been dizzy-free for over four years. Before that time, however, I never knew when my world would start spinning or I’d have a vertigo attack.

Since I usually had two or three days a week with no balance issues, I decided to take a chance and schedule a time to have my teeth cleaned. When I woke up the day of my appointment, I was dentist appointment on calendarpleased to note that I felt fine. But two hours later, the dizziness began. I tried taking a nap and  even exercising, which sometimes helped, but the whirling continued. Although the spinning was mild while I remained upright, which means I could drive safely, when I reclined in a chair, like I would be at the dentist, the dizziness intensified to the point where I scrambled to get back upright again.

By this time, I only had a half hour left before I needed to leave for my appointment. Therefore, I did two things:

First, I started praying.

Second, I started bawling.

I’m not a big crier, but the thought of telling the receptionist about my inner ear disorder made me feel embarrassed, humiliated, and, in a way, almost ashamed. Having Meniere’s was mortifying enough, resulting in sudden vertigo attacks which left me stumbling around like a drunkard and vomiting into the nearest trashcan. Now I’d have to tell her about it, and I don’t like feeling weak or dependent upon people. In addition, I really, really don’t like crying in front of people. Now, not only would I  have to admit my vulnerability and lay my plight at the mercy of the receptionist, I’d have to do it while blubbering into the phone.

I picked up the phone two, three, four times to make the call. But each time, I started sobbing before I had even finished dialing. And the entire time I was bawling and dialing, I was praying–for God to take away my dizziness or at least help me to control myself long enough to speak to the receptionist.

But neither happened. I now had ten minutes before I had to leave.

Of course, I could just not show up for my appointment, which would make things a lot easier for me. But that would be wrong, and the last thing I wanted to deal with was guilt and sin on top of humiliation.

So I kept praying, picking up the phone, weeping, and hanging up again, knowing I would have to get the call made soon.

home phoneFive minutes left.

I no longer had a choice. I’d have to call the receptionist and try to make myself understood between racking sobs. I swallowed my pride, blew my nose, and reached for the phone.

And it rang.

I cleared my throat and took a deep breath. “Hello?”

“Hi, Sue. This is the dentist office calling,” said the woman on the other end. “I’m so sorry, but we have a patient here that is taking much longer than we anticipated, so we don’t have anyone available to clean your teeth. I know it’s last minute, and again I apologize, but can you come in another time?”

After I finally shut my gaping mouth and was able to form words, I rescheduled, hung up the phone, and started blubbering again—this time because of God’s grace and compassion. He knew I was already having a hard time dealing with my inner ear disorder. He knew I didn’t like crying in public or feeling humiliated and weak. And he knew I was trying to do the right thing.

Never, before or since, has a dentist ever called to cancel a last-minute appointment for me or anyone in my family. And I don’t know anyone else this has happened to, either.

During one of the most difficult years of my life, God showed me more of his tender heart and steadfast love by reaching down and taking care of a small dilemma that was hard for me.

As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 103:13-14 (ESV)

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