Stepping on a Crunchy Leaf

September 15, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

There are two types of people in this world. Those who can simply walk down a sidewalk of fallen leaves, and those who must step on the crunchy ones.

I fall in the second category. I anticipate the opportunity each autumn brings to scuffle through the brightly colored foliage and listen to the rustle every step makes. Nothing makes me happier than spying a particularly puffy dried leaf and going out of my way to step on it. I love listening to its satisfying pop as I help it make its way back to the earth a little quicker. I refuse to be labeled a sadist, I am simply helping to complete the circle of life.

I know there are others like me. A friend of my daughter’s shared that her best and worst fall experience happened at the same time. Walking across the college campus on a particularly bright and brisk autumn day, she spied a huge pile of leaves. Overcome by their siren call, she raced toward the pile and jumped. Her happiness was quickly snuffed when she pulled herself out of the mass of foliage, only to spy a groundskeeper with a leaf blower, glowering down at her.

Alas, some people do not have a sense of humor.

Fall, more than any other season, brings out the kid in me. I long for hot apple cider and soft hooded sweatshirts. Pumpkin muffins and corn stalks. Warm blankets on chilly afternoons. I don’t know why this season, more than any other, speaks to my inner child, but it does. And for that I’m grateful.

Maybe it’s because the days are shorter that I seem to treasure them more. I pay attention to the color of the leaves and the sky, when at other times of the year, I am simply too wrapped up in my own thoughts to notice God’s creation.

Maybe it’s because I know I’ll soon be cocooned inside my house for the long winter, that I now find time to take an afternoon walk and thank Him for the gift of this world.

Perhaps it’s because, each autumn, I’m reminded of God’s unlimited grace. We live in a fallen world. One where our lives can often feel as bleak and gray as a rainy September day. But there is always the promise of the coming spring, just as there is always hope for our futures in God’s love.

So today, I shall walk outside and step on a crunchy leaf. And when I do, I will rejoice that I serve a merciful, loving, and gracious God.

A Cup of Patience

July 25, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

It was stupid. I know it was. It was an extravagant little item that I didn’t need.

But I wanted it.

I wanted it bad.

What, pray tell, had captured my attention and aroused my desire?

A teapot.

Yup. A tiny silver teapot. But it wasn’t only a teapot. The dainty beauty sat upon its own little cup and it contained its own little diffuser. It beckoned to me like an island oasis. “Buy me,” it whispered. “Fill me with extravagant tea leaves from exotic lands, and when you sip the liquid from my brew, I will take you there!”

Okay. Maybe it wasn’t quite as specific as that, but the pot definitely spoke to me of relaxing cups of tasty tea sipped over the pages of a good book. I checked the price of this diminutive treasure. Not too expensive, but I still didn’t feel as if I could justify the purchase. It was, however, close to my birthday. I suggested to my mother-in-law, browsing beside me, that she could drop a hint to my kids that this would be the perfect gift. As we were out- of-town, I knew my children only had a small window of opportunity to buy it.

I watched them the following day.

They never left the house.

That night, the entire family gathered at a restaurant just around the corner from the shop where my obsession sat waiting for me. Since I knew my kids hadn’t bought the teapot for me, I decided to walk to the store after dinner and buy it myself. My mother-in-law stopped me. Rather emphatically.

I figured she planned to buy the tea pot and send it to me for my birthday. I waited, like an impatient child at Christmas, for my package to arrive in the mail. As the days ticked down to my birthday, I jumped at the sound of every truck coming along the street, fully expecting the UPS man to deliver my desire.

But he never came.

Instead, the mailman unceremoniously stuck a large envelope in our mailbox. It squished when I pulled it out. My heart sunk when I read the return address and realized that it was from my in-laws. It wasn’t my tea pot. It contained a beautiful scarf necklace. The perfect complement to the new outfit I’d bought with a gift card from my mother.

But it wasn’t the teapot.

I argued with myself that I didn’t need the teapot. That my birthday had been most pleasant even without the gift I’d wanted. As the day wore on, it was harder to convince myself.

But then, just before the day ended, my daughter presented me with a cylindrical box decorated with a bow. I knew without opening it what it contained. My kids had given money to my sister-in-law who’d slipped out, bought the teapot, and snuck it to my children while I wasn’t looking.

Now when I sip my tea, I don’t think about exotic places. I think about how I almost let my frustration rob me of my happiness. The teapot has become a symbol of my walk with Christ. I am reminded that God has a good and perfect will for my life, but sometimes I have to wait for His perfect time. His gifts may not come when I think they should, but I think that’s so I will appreciate them even more when they do arrive.

Deceiving Appearances

June 18, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

Have you ever had a taste surprise? You reach for the bottle of apple juice in the fridge, take a swallow, only to discover it’s actually the sun tea you made that afternoon? A friend of mine has held a grudge against pumpernickel bread ever since she took a cube off a buffet table, thinking it was a brownie bite.

I had, at a recent family reunion, not a taste surprise, but an appearance surprise. To understand the true nature of this, you have to know that some members of my husband’s family loathe mayonnaise. The sight of the gelatinous white sandwich spread makes them physically ill. My son, Ian, doesn’t hate it to that extent, but he still doesn’t like it. As we gathered at the picnic table to eat a lunch of leftovers, my niece, Allison, walked out with a huge jar of mayonnaise.

Her cousin, Justyn, stared at her in horror. “Why’d you bring that out here?”

She gave him a sweet smile. “I found out that I like it!”

My son looked around the table at the remaining hot dogs and burgers. Ian’s face paled. “What are you going to put it on?”

Allison plopped into her chair, setting the offensive jar, and a plate of crackers on the table. She slowly unscrewed the cap.

Justyn turned a shade of green. “Crackers? You eat it just with crackers?”

In answer, she dipped her spoon into the jar and spread a blob of its contents onto a cracker. She popped the morsel into her mouth. “Yep.”

My son stared. “I dare you to eat a spoonful on its own.”

Allison promptly did.

Ian made a retching noise before standing up. “That just hurt my heart.” He and Justyn ran into the house.

Allison laughed while the rest of us looked on with various expressions of confusion, curiosity and revulsion. She scooped out another blob and held it out. “Anyone else want some?” She giggled at the groans she heard. “It’s vanilla pudding!”

She’d fooled all of us with her practical joke, something she gloated over for the rest of our visit. We’d all looked at the jar and its label, and assumed that the white goo inside was mayonnaise. But, if we’d really thought about it, we would have realized Allison would never eat mayonnaise, as she’s always been the most vocal in her disgust of the stuff.

The joke reminded me of the passage in 1Samuel 16:7 when God warned Samuel not to judge a person by their appearance, as man does; but by their heart, as He does. How often do we jump to conclusions based on appearances? Has someone’s clothes, or tattoos, or hairstyle, stopped me from approaching them because I didn’t think we’d have anything in common? Just because the outside looks like something we might not like, the inside might hold a sweet treat, just like Allison’s jar of “mayonnaise.”

A Woman’s Purse, the Final Frontier

May 24, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

Everyone knows a woman’s purse is a black hole in which a myriad of objects can be lost or found. If she carries a big purse, it can weigh up to thirty pounds and carry the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. A woman who carries a small purse may fool others, but I know she’s mastered the game of Tetris and is probably carrying the same amount of stuff, just packed more economically.

Young mothers often use their purses as supplemental diaper bags. Diapers, wipes, plastic containers of Cheerios and teething rings are often stuffed next to wallets and key chains. I know women who are prepared to survive in the wild for months. Swiss Army knives, water bottles, first aid kits and granola bars; not to mention GPS devices, flares and a box of matches somehow find the room to coexist amid mundane checkbooks and pens in their handbags.

I often feel like I’m reenacting a scene from Mary Poppins when I decide to tackle cleaning out my purse. I may not have a lamp stand like the practically perfect nanny, but I’ve found some mighty strange objects of my own.

This morning, as I waded through the inevitable sea of receipts filling the bottom of my purse, I found a carrot cake muffin. Fortunately, it was still in the take-out bag I’d stuffed it in after lunch with a friend last week. Unfortunately, I could have sent it to the NHL to use as a puck in their next game. I guess I should be thankful it hadn’t exploded into tiny carrot cake pieces of sand. That could have been a real disaster.

Every time I discover something like this I promise to do better next time. I won’t horde receipts as if I want to someday create the world’s largest paper mache′ piñata. I won’t let unwrapped cough drops melt to the bottom of the bag until I have to use a chisel to remove them.

I need to periodically take a look at my soul as well to see what kind of garbage I’m carrying. Sometimes I think, because I’m not bowing under the weight of some major sin, everything must be going okay. But it just isn’t so. I often let stuff creep into my life that I need to remove- old habits, negative thoughts, judgmental attitudes and other “small” sins can clutter up my spiritual life so that I can’t find what I need; God’s grace and His mercy.

Psalm 139: 23-24 says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting”(NIV). As much as I might hate the process, I know it’s the best for me. After all, I’d rather be filled with God’s blessings than a stale carrot cake muffin any day!

What a Friend We Have in Garmin

April 22, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

I have a confession. I am directionally challenged. If there’s only one way to get to a location, I’ll still manage to take a wrong turn. I’ve accidently gone to another state. Even with that handicap, I’m one of the only people I know who doesn’t have a GPS device in the car. I don’t think I ever will either.

The one time I tried using one was in a friend’s car. We were on our way to a retreat and plugged in our destination. I’d been told it would take us an hour to get to the center. An hour later, my friend and I were lost in some rural town with no name out in the middle of nowhere. Her Garmin kept telling us to turn right which would have sent us into a cornfield. The disembodied voice seemed quite put out that we wouldn’t obey her command. Every time we tried to find our way back to the main road I could hear Garmin sigh as she told us she was, “recalculating.” If she’d been a real woman, I know she would have crossed her arms and tapped her foot with impatience. We finally turned off the GPS and called someone we knew was already at the retreat center to help us find our way. I have no idea where the GPS wanted to send us, but it certainly wasn’t the place we wanted to go.

Others have had similar trials. One friend told me their GPS led them to the edge of a lake before ordering, “Find a way to the other side.” Sounds pretty much like Garmin was telling her to go “jump in the lake” to me! Another friend was trying to find an ice skating rink and instead ended up in a cemetery. Fortunately, he’s not paranoid. Me? I would have been convinced Garmin was trying to tell me something.

Give me a plain old map. I love to unfold the colorful accordion of paper and locate my destination. My fingers enjoy tracing the route. My brain likes to read the different towns along the way. And, I admit with a small amount of pride, I can usually re-fold the map into its original slim rectangle without a problem.

I feel the same way about my Bible. It is God’s map for us. It’s the same today as it was thousands of years ago. Although it never changes, it is new every time we read it. I know there are fancier ways to read scripture (apps on Smart phones and I pads) but I like to crack open the pages of my leather bound Bible. My fingers like to follow along certain passages and I love to mark out new “routes” that I discover along the way. Whether you choose an old-fashioned Bible or an electronic app, make sure to be in God’s word daily. As Psalm 119:105 says, it truly is “a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (ESV) and will keep you from getting lost in the rural cornfields of life.

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