Driving Me Crazy

March 26, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

I pulled up behind a minivan today while waiting for a red light. Through the rear window I could see the glow of a television screen.

I sighed.

Not that I begrudge you if you own such a decked out vehicle, but oh, how I remember the simpler days when parents had to listen to inane children’s songs over and over again on rides around town. Like prisoners in a torture chamber, those of us who survived Raffi’s “Baby Beluga” a hundred times-a-day became tougher parents; able to withstand the onslaught of the latest teen sensation without batting an eyelash.

And if your child is watching television while you’re driving, you no longer have to endure the constant barrage of questions I remember so well:

“Mom! Where are we going?”

“The store.”

“Why?”

“Because we’re out of milk.”

“Why?”

“Because you and your father and your sister drank it all.”

“Why?”

“Because you like it.”

“Can we get a toy at the store?”

“No.”

“Why not?” Sniffle, sniffle.

“Because it’s a grocery store, they sell food, not toys.”

“Why?”

“Because they do.”

“But why?”

“I don’t know why. They just do.”

“They do what?”

“They…uh…they…” I’d completely forgotten what we were talking about. “Because.”

But lest my train of thought get permanently derailed, I’d get kicked from behind by a light up sneaker. The blue and red LEDs flashing in the rearview mirror like lights on a police car. “Why don’t they sell toys at the food store?”

And our conversation would circle back around like an airplane in a holding pattern.

I feel sorry for those who no longer take pleasure in a four-year-old’s random thoughts. I learned a lot about my kids on those rides when we had errands to run and doctor’s appointments. No one can enjoy a puffy cloud like a child. Or dump trucks on a construction site. And a trip through the car wash became a wild, underwater adventure with giant blue squids and hurricanes.

Without a television to distract us, car rides also became lessons in faith for myself as well as my kids. Nothing makes you hold your tongue quicker than a precocious two-year-old. Instead of letting loose with my anger, I often found myself yelling, “God…bless that man and help him get to wherever he’s going safely!” and “Please God, not another red light.” A premier parking spot in the pouring rain became a time of praise, “Thank you, Jesus!”

As my kids are now old enough to drive themselves, I have a new perspective on God’s sense of time. Psalm 90:4 reminds us, “…a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by” (NIV). When you’re in the midst of diapers and play dates you can’t believe you’ll ever miss the chatter, the clutter and the constant attention your kids demand. But I know I do. Perhaps I’ll dig through the basement, I’m sure I’ve got an old Raffi CD hiding in a box down there. If not, maybe I’ll download a song or two and drive around town singing “Baby Beluga” for old times’ sake.

Getting Stronger, Even if it Kills Me

March 12, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

A young friend (I now consider anyone under the age of 40 to be young) recently posted on Facebook, “It’s amazing how running makes you feel better. I love endorphins!”

I stared at the post for several seconds. I reread it two or three times to make sure I understood her meaning. Then I posted the following snarky comment in response, “I can safely say that running has never made me feel that way. Although I always feel better after I exercise, I think it’s my body’s way of thanking God that I’m still alive!”

I hate to run. Actually, I hate all exercise. Hate is probably too gentle a word. I despise it with every fiber of my being. I have nightmares of passing out on our elliptical machine only to be found hours later by one of my children while the pedals mysteriously keep turning and whacking me in the head. It’s quite frightening. It reminds me of the phrase, “That which doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.” I can only hope my battle with the elliptical is making me stronger, because most days, I feel like I’m losing the war.

My loathing of exercise is one of the reasons why I hate action movies. They depress me. I know I’d be the person left behind to be captured by the terrorists or become dinner for the aliens because I couldn’t keep up with the rest of the group. And those scenes of the heroine clutching onto a cliff or window ledge by her fingers? I cringe every time, not because I’m scared the heroine won’t hold on, but because I know, if that was me, I’d be plummeting to my demise in a matter of seconds.

Why is it so often the things that are best for us are the hardest to do? It’s far easier to stay in bed an extra hour in the morning than get up and exercise. And how come we can stay up an extra half hour to watch a television show, but opening up our Bible before going to bed is so difficult? I think it’s because the things that are the best for us, don’t provide us with instant rewards. An extra hour in bed makes that morning a little easier to handle. Making the effort to exercise means working harder each day for a long time before our bodies begin to transform into leaner, healthier machines. The laughter a half-hour comedy show provides is an instant distraction to the troubles of the day. Spending a half-hour in God’s word means taking the time to examine our hearts in the light of His truth, and letting it work its way into the very fabric of our souls.

The best things in life aren’t free, and they certainly aren’t easy, but they are worth the effort. And so I’m off to face the instrument of torture, I mean the elliptical. Wish me luck. And kids, if I’m not in the kitchen when you get home from school, please make sure I haven’t passed out while getting stronger.

The Joy of Juicing

January 2, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

My husband and I have started juicing. (Just as an aside, when did nouns become verbs like juicing or texting? And I no longer exercise, I “ellipticate.”)

A friend of ours gave us a juicer. “It works great,” she said as she handed it to me.

“It could juice a cracker!” her husband promised.

“If it’s so great,” I asked, “why are you giving it away?”

“We just don’t have the time.”

Time? How much time can juicing take? You throw some stuff in the machine and voila! Juice, right?

A recent Saturday morning found me in my kitchen surrounded by various fruits. A veritable orchard out in the Nebraska cornfields. I had mangos, strawberries, tangerines, apples and pears all piled high and ready to go. I plugged in the juicer, let the motor run for the allotted ten second “start up” time and then threw the fruit down the chute.

The machine roared to life. It shook and rattled as the inner blades decimated my offerings into a tall glass of colorful goodness, chock full of various vitamins and antioxidants.

*sigh*

Really? All that fruit and all I got was one lousy glass of juice. Ok, it wasn’t lousy. It was actually quite tasty, but besides the cost of the fruit, I now had to clean the machine. I understood what my friend meant about the time factor. To squeeze the pulp out, the machine chops it up then spins out the dry pulp. The juice runs out a little spout, the pulp collects (theoretically) in the tub behind the machine. In reality, it goes everywhere. The machine has to be taken apart and each component washed separately.

With the cost of fresh fruit and veggies nowadays, I hated the thought of wasting all the pulp. We’ve started putting it into waffle and muffin mixes. They’ve been delicious. The other day I snuck veggie pulp into my meatballs when the kids weren’t looking. They loved them and anytime I can get them to eat an extra vegetable is a good day for me.

It got me thinking about how God views our lives. (It’s a stretch, I know, but work with me here!) Every moment of our lives is precious. It costs us something, time we can never get back. It’s easy to spot the good stuff that comes out of each day. We drink that down easily and thank God for his gifts. But even the bad stuff, the “garbage” can be turned into something good if we take the time to let God clean it out and mix it with His love and mercy. It may take some work, but the results are well worth the effort.

A Lesson in Coffee

December 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

I am not a morning person. Never have been and barring an act of God, I probably never will be.

Oh, I can get up, I can technically function, but please don’t ask me to hold a lucid conversation or think about anything difficult. Difficult means anything requiring more than two steps in the thought process. Putting on my slippers, that I can do. Shuffling into the kitchen to let the dogs out, that’s pretty taxing, but I can usually handle it. Fortunately for me, my husband and children know that I improve vastly if I’m left alone until I’ve had a cup of coffee to spark the synapses in my brain.

The other morning, I woke up foggy and exhausted after an unusually busy week. I got my slippers on and let the dogs out. I smiled to myself, glad to have accomplished so much already on a Saturday morning. Things had gone so well, I decided to attempt more. I puttered around the kitchen and got a pot of coffee brewing. Finding the house still quiet I sat down to do something I hadn’t done in awhile—read my Bible.

A few minutes later, my nose tingled as the distinct aroma of fresh coffee wafted into the living room. I dragged myself back to the kitchen and grabbed the carafe. After pouring the coffee, I emptied a packet of sweetener and searched the fridge for the creamer. A dollop later and I was ready to let the beverage revive me.

One sip told me I had made a big mistake. I spit the disgusting mouthful into the sink and grabbed the carton of creamer from the counter. I groaned as I took a good look at it− egg substitute. I dumped the rest of my mug away, placed the offending product back in the refrigerator, double checked to make sure the next carton I picked up was half-and-half, and made up a new cup of coffee.

I thought about what happened as I returned to my Bible. If we’re not paying attention we can easily allow the wrong things to slip into our minds and hearts. Being a disciple of Christ doesn’t mean we can go through the motions of Christianity, it means being vigilant in all areas of life so we don’t find ourselves in compromising situations. But if we do stumble, we can pour our mistakes out to God. He is always willing to let us try again.

And note to self: Have my husband make the coffee when I’m tired.

Mind the Gap

October 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

Is it just my kids, or do others recall the oddest things from family vacations? We take them to Disney World and they don’t talk about rollercoaster rides or Mickey Mouse, but hotel pools and getting wet in the rain. And if you ask my children what they remember most from their vacation to England several years ago, they’ll probably laugh and tell you to, “Mind the gap!”

If you press them they’ll tell you about Stonehenge and the Tower of London, but the thing that stands out most in their minds is the ever present, disembodied voice on the tube (the underground train) telling passengers to “mind the gap” at every station. The gap is the space between the train car and the platform, sometimes several inches wide. As the rattling subway approached the station, a proper British voice, like an invisible, yet vigilant sentinel, would call out its warning and we’d laugh, repeating it to each other as we jumped off the car to go sightseeing.

Even with the cautioning voice, we saw several people trip as their foot got caught in the gap. They’d stumble, but manage to right themselves, before they fell. I must confess to a little self-righteous judgment when I saw them. If they’d only paid attention, they’d have been fine. The funny thing is, most of the people we saw trip weren’t obvious tourists, like my family, but Londoners who more than likely ride the tube every day. People for whom the journey had become routine. They didn’t hear the warning because of being caught up in their own thoughts and worries about the day.

I wonder how often it is that I ignore God’s reminders to “mind the gap?” I may not hear a voice with a British accent cautioning me, but I know there are daily signs He gives me to keep me in His will. And yet I, like those passengers on the subway, often get so focused on my own little world and the hurried pace of the day, that I find my foot caught in the gap (or sometimes planted solidly in my mouth) and I end up sprawled in sin or just consumed by needless angst. Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (NLT). It can also be that still, small voice that reminds us daily to “mind the gap!”

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