One Jeep, Two Jeep

cropped-img_3836.jpgIt’s the fourth Monday of the month already—my time to blog something humorous so that we can spend time laughing at, well, mostly me. And it’s okay, because I’ve learned to laugh at myself, too. Here’s another doozy…

On the Saturday before Memorial Day, I came out of the grocery store and walked to my blue Jeep Patriot. Because I only had two bags, I decided to put them on the floor of the front passenger seat. I clicked my key fob, pulled the door open, and pushed the seat all the way back. That’s when I noticed a strange metal contraption on the seat. My husband is a chemist, and since he’s always bringing home metal panels, I shrugged, lifted the bags to the jeep, and once again stopped. Beside the  metal thingamabobber was a sandwich bag containing dog bones.

“Now what’s he doing?” I said aloud. Maybe he decided to bring some treats home for our Boxer, but he had never done that before.

Then I glanced over at the driver’s side and saw a book—a book that wasn’t mine.

“Oh no.” I straightened and looked to my right. There sat my jeep, a few parkingIMG_4062 (1) spaces away.

I was in the wrong blue Jeep Patriot.

Feeling like an idiot, I scanned the parking lot. When no one appeared to have noticed my strange behavior, I slammed the door and high-tailed it over to my jeep. Once inside, I took stalk of my belongings. Shew. I hadn’t left anything behind in the wrong jeep. Then I remembered that I had pushed the front passenger seat all the way back. Should I run back over to the other jeep and push the seat forward? But what if the owner came out and saw me?

As I debated my course of action, an older, bearded gentleman emerged from the store and walked to the jeep.

I felt funny, like I’d invaded his privacy. Maybe I should tell him what I’d done. He might think my faux pas was funny. Then again, he might not.

I hadn’t done anything wrong, so I decided to leave it at that and drove away. He’d never know. And as for the seat, he’d probably blame his advanced years for the fact that he couldn’t remember moving the it back.

Three days later, I went to the drug store and exited in a huff. They had sent a text telling me that my medication for my inner ear disorder was ready for pickup, but when I got to the counter, they informed me that only one of the two was done.

“Can you wait while we refill the other medication?” The pharmacist asked.

“I have a dentist appointment in twenty minutes,” I told her. “I’ll have to stop by later.”

I had a busy day ahead of me and no time to go back at the drug store. So I stomped out into the parking lot, clicked my key fob to unlock the jeep, and opened the driver’s-side door.

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I was about to sit down when I saw the envelope on the seat. I rolled my eyes. Just great. On top of the drug store irritation, I must have forgotten to mail the mortgage. I picked up the envelope, hoping I could get it to the post office and still make my dental appointment on time. That’s when I read the address.

“Who is this?” I again said aloud. I looked at the return address. I didn’t recognize that name, either.

“Oh no, it couldn’t be…” I popped out of the jeep and looked behind me. At my jeep. A few spaces away.

I was in the exact same wrong jeep.

“Oh my gosh. Not again.” Once again, I slammed the door and scurried to my Patriot, glancing around me and thankful that no one had seen me make a fool of myself a second time. I slid into the front seat and stared at the other jeep. The elderly owner certainly was a trusting soul, leaving his jeep unlocked. Anyone could pull open a door and get inside.

Obviously.

As I  put my key into the ignition, the automatic doors opened and out came the same little old man. He shuffled to his jeep and, just before he opened the door, noticed me gawking at him. I looked away, started my jeep, and sped away.

As I think back on this experience, I still find it hard to believe it. I mean, what are the chances of getting into the same wrong jeep twice? Pretty minuscule, and yet it happened.

Well, I’m off to town. Come to think of it, I saw that jeep in the shopping center parking lot not too long ago.

I think I’ll take the truck.

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Hi, It’s Me

cropped-img_3836.jpgPrior to the introduction of Caller ID in 1991, we had to wait for callers to identify themselves before we knew with whom we were speaking. Most of us, however, can recall a time or two when the caller did not give their name and instead launched right into a conversation. I can think of many times when this happened to me, and one of three things occurred.

One: I’d know the voice after a few words.

Two: I wouldn’t  recognize the voice and continued talking, hoping I’d eventually figure out who was on the line. Sometimes, however, this approach backfired. For example–when I was a teenager, I once spoke to a woman on the phone for ten minutes, racking my brain the entire time trying to figure out who she was. I didn’t want to ask her, because it was obvious that she thought I’d know her by her voice. I finally realized that she was my mother’s friend and thought I was my mother. By that time, I was too embarrassed to tell her that I wasn’t my mother, so I spoke to her for another twenty minutes pretending to be my mom. After that episode, I learned to use the third approach.

Three: I’d cut the caller off mid-sentence and ask, “Who the heck is this?”

Family members, however, all fell into category one. When I called my parents, sibling, or close relatives, or they called me, we always started our conversations with a simple, “Hi, hi it's meit’s me.”  That’s it. Three small words, but I immediately knew who was speaking, and they knew me. Because we loved each other and had a close relationship, the sounds of our voices were all we needed to identify each other.

Sometimes, especially when I’m struggling to hear God’s voice and know which path he’s asking  me to follow, I wish heaven had Caller ID.  Instead of spending hours and hours praying, reading my Bible, and seeking him, “God” would flash, and I’d know he was calling me to go in a certain direction. Piece of cake.

But is that really what I want? If God had Caller ID, I wonder if he would be no more than a mere acquaintance to me. And I’d miss out on the most amazing relationship I’ll beach-1868772__340ever have. To be honest, I’d rather spend those hours and hours with my Father, immersing myself in his word, being still before him, and listening instead of always asking. My prayer is that, when I seek him with all my heart and spend time daily in his presence, I’ll know him anywhere. And all I’ll need to recognize his voice are three words:

Hi, it’s Me.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 

John 10:27-28 (ESV)

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Shouting Grace

cropped-img_3836.jpgA few Sunday ago, our pastor reminded us that all good things in our lives are a result of God’s grace. He gave an illustration of a young man he knew who was so excited by God that he witnessed to the wait staff at restaurants and shouted “Grace!” any time he felt blessed. When our pastor mentioned that people often thought he was weird, my first reaction was indignation. How could someone think a person was weird, just because he was enthusiastic about God’s grace?

And then I remembered a time when I was guilty of the exact same behavior.

Many years ago, I drove to visit my friend, who lived in the South. Since my stay included a steeple-812885__340weekend, we went to her church on Sunday morning. She had told me many times how much she loved her pastor’s messages, so I was looking forward to listening to what he had to say.

After a half hour of worship, the pastor stepped onto the stage and began preaching. When he finished his first sentence, the woman sitting in the row in front of me shouted, “Amen!” A few minutes later, she shouted, “Yes, sir!” I was getting a kick out of hearing her affirmations proclaimed with her strong southern accent.

Five minutes later, I was no longer quite so amused. Every time the pastor drew breath, this woman had something to add. “Amen!” “Speak on!” “Praise God!” And her favorite— “Yes, sir!” which she uttered like it was one word, with the stress on “Yes,” as in YES-sir.

Ten minutes into the message, I had switched from getting a kick out of her to wanting to kick her. She was driving me crazy! I was so irritated that I no longer had a clue angry ladywhat the pastor was saying.

Twenty minutes into the message, I sat behind her with my teeth clenched, trying to resist the urge to smack her over the head with my Bible and tell her to shut up already. What was the matter with her? I looked around at the other members of the church, but no one else seemed annoyed by her constant stream of declarations. How these people could concentrate on the message and ignore this woman every Sunday was beyond me.

The only other times that I have counted the minutes for the message to end have been when I really, really needed to use the restroom. (Maybe it’s just me, but I always feel rude leaving my seat while the pastor is talking.) But that Sunday, when the pastor finished and bowed his head in prayer, I exhaled in immense relief.

“Do you know that lady sitting in front of us?” I asked my friend when we climbed into her car. “She was making me bats!”

“Yeah, I know her,” she said.

“Does she do that every Sunday?”

She nodded. “Pretty much.”

“How can you stand it?”

“Well, one time I asked her why she did that,” my friend said as she pulled out of the parking lot. “And you know what she said? She told me that if I knew what God had done for her, I’d be shouting too.”

I looked out the window as shame drenched me. I’d been annoyed, even contemplating physical violence, because a woman was so grateful for God’s grace in her life that she couldn’t contain herself.

Since my friend lives in the country, the ride home from church took almost an hour. But I needed every minute to ask God’s forgiveness for being judgmental and unloving toward my sister in the Lord.

Maybe I didn’t know how much God had done for her, but that didn’t matter. Every, sunrise crosssingle one of us is saved by grace through faith—a gift from God that we didn’t earn and can’t accomplish ourselves. Instead of railing against her, I should have been praising God alongside her.

Because my big God has done a lot for me, too.

Actually, more than a lot.

He has done everything.

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Have a Peachy Labor Day

20170902_173719_Richtone(HDR)Greeting from Romeo, Michigan, home of the Romeo Peach Festival, which takes place each year starting the Thursday before Labor day through Labor Day. I thought I’d take a break from my labor, too and share some images of my little village here in Michigan.

If you’re a local and love small-town events, don’t miss the Children’s Parade today at 10 a.m. It’s the cutest parade ever! And, of course, the amazing Floral Parade down Main Street starting at 1:30 p.m. Well, I’m off to stuff myself with peach pie, peach ice cream, corn dogs, and barbecue. Enjoy the photos, and I’ll see you next week when I blog about a time when God really humbled me in “Shouting Grace.”

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