Looks are Deceiving

May 2, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

The day before we were to leave for home from our little family business in Dubois, Wyoming I ventured down to the old garage that houses many of my father-in-law’s treasures, God rest his soul.

Remembering that the roof leaked last winter, I wanted to get a patch on it so more items wouldn’t be lost to the mold and mildew pit. I climbed up the ladder and peered over the ridge. It didn’t look too bad so I walked over to the spot I knew from the inside of the garage had the leak and started to sweep it off so I could roll the liquid patching material onto it. Soon I felt a squishy feeling under my tennis shoes.

A few sweeps later I stepped and crashed in up to my ankle. Slowly, carefully I pulled my foot out of the hole and crawled to the edge of the garage roof. I sat on the brick edge thinking that it didn’t look that bad from the outside. Still because of what just happened, I laid a board on the roof to walk out on then peeled back the shingles. Much to my chagrin, under the seemingly intact roofing, were water damaged rotten boards. Some places were rotted half way through the beams.

I had purchased $50 worth of patch material to hold the water back for the winter and was planning to take the morning to complete my patching job by noon. Two and a half days and $585 later we have a new roof on the old garage. We were late leaving for home, and spent more than quadruple our planned budget for the project. All that after our good friend donated the shingles so we didn’t have to purchase that part of the roofing. We have a standing joke at our old motel that whatever job you plan to do you should double the amount of time and triple the budget it will take to get it done. One thing about the motel, I have learned how to do so many repairs, plumbing, tiling, painting and now roofing, to name a few.

Sometimes I get the feeling our hearts are like that old hail damaged roof. From the outside, we look like we just need a few repairs. But lurking under our Sunday smiles lies a heart that is black and rotten and in serious need of an overhaul. Thank goodness our Savior is up to the task of heart overhauls.

He performed heart overhauls for the people of Israel and He will do it for us. Check out what God’s Word says in Ezekiel 11:18-20a: “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

Just like the new roof will protect the treasures in the old garage until we can get in there and take care of them, so our hearts will serve us well after the Father goes in and does his magic of overhauling them. I can think of few things I want more for me and those I love than that… “They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

Fear Not

March 9, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

We own a small family-run motel near Yellowstone in Dubois, Wyoming. It is one of my favorite places on the planet. We spend our summers there repairing the damage of hired managers and “old building syndrome,” while transforming it back into a profitable business. On our off time we fly fish, rock hound, and go tubing down the Wind River that borders the motel property. To us Dubois is a slice of paradise. It is however, a seasonal business because winters there are brutal.

Last autumn, I was there later in the year than we have usually been. One crisp evening, I was in the lobby checking emails late and hoping for some business when I thought I saw a face peeking in the bottom of the window out of the corner of my eye. We had a prowler earlier in the evening that broke a window, very rare for Dubois, so I was a bit uneasy anyway. When I saw it again I was suddenly too frozen with fear to move. I did what I always do when I am terrified; I started praying scripture out loud (because no one can stand against the Word of God).

As I prayed I mustered the courage to do the thing everyone in a horror movie knows not to do—go toward the threat. Slowly I stood from my chair and grabbing a fireplace poker made my way to the door.

I reached for the handle readying myself to do whatever I needed to (like slam it back shut). I threw open the door when much to my great surprise (and hers) I found myself face to face with a little doe. She was helping herself to the flowers in my pots next to the office door. She was adorable there with a mouthful of late season petunias. I laughed out loud. She had the unmistakable look of a kid with her hand caught in the cookie jar. We stared at each other for a moment or two then she moseyed around to the front of the motel to munch more there. She was just tall enough to look in through the bottom of the office door window.

I went back into the lobby shaking my head at how silly I can be. Getting myself all worked up imagining what might be out there; the preverbal monster under the bed. Isn’t it funny how fear of the unknown paralyzes us? Before I started praying and walked to the door I was glued to my chair in fear.

Every time I start to worry about what will happen with our economy, or our country, or my teenaged children (we have three teenaged boys), or our finances or or or…you get the idea, I have to say to myself out loud what the Bible tells us 365 times. “Do not be afraid.” I run to the Word and look for the passages like Deuteronomy 31:5-7 that say, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” And He does go with us, never forsaking us!

He’s Got Your Back

January 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

Last summer we decided that our house was in serious need of staining. I borrowed a power washer from a painter friend who said it would be better than sanding. So to prep the siding for a new coat of stain, I set out to “wash my house”. I closed all the windows tight so I no water would go in through the cracks.

The machine was amazing. It removes paint at 15 feet; get closer at full blast and you will be erasing the siding. It took me a few minutes to get used to it; I blew out a few light bulbs on porch lights. But after doing the bottom half of our house from the ground I felt like I could do anything. I wanted to have the whole house done before my husband got home from work to surprise him.

I enlisted the assistance of my teenaged son to help me get the washer set up on the roof and myself up there. He went into the house and I began my work. Just as I was finishing a thunder storm rolled over the hills and the lighting was heading my way.

The roof was very wet now and getting on the ladder without someone to hold it didn’t seem safe. But neither did standing on my roof like a lightning rod. So I did what any self-respecting person would do, I started hollering for my son to come out and help me get off the roof. Because I had closed down the house tighter than a drum, he could not hear me. I pounded on the only window I could reach from that particular roof portion. No answer. I yelled. No answer. I screamed. No answer. I am sure the neighbors and all of the front-range could hear me but not Martin. Since we live in the mountains above Denver, a summer storm also usually means a drastic drop in temperature. So there I was drenched to the bone from my washing, frozen in the cold as the storm rolled in. Lightening crashed, thunder rolled, I shivered. After yelling myself out I sat against the side of the building and waited.

While I was sitting up there I watched the storm roll over the mountain and I prayed. I was reminded of the saying, Sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child. That vantage point provided the best view of a thunderstorm I have ever witnessed. It was beautiful, powerful, and a bit scary. But as I prayed a peace washed over me like the rain coming across the valley.

I knew I was going to be ok so I just sat and waited. I am ever amazed that over and over again God shows me that He is in control and He’s got my back. And He has yours too. So you might as well relax and enjoy the ride. Even if you are shivering.

Once it started to rain, Martin remembered I was out there and came running out to see if I was ok. I got off the roof safely and he made me a cup of hot tea. And the house was clean before my husband got home from work. So it is; another example of what my Mom always says…Things have a way of working out.

Some Days are Like That

November 17, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

Ever have one of those days? I mean a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day (to quote one of my favorite children’s books titled Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Vorist)? Well, I did just a while back.

Up late in the morning, but by some miracle, we made it to the bus on time, only to discover the substitute driver came five minutes early. Wouldn’t you think he would notice no one was at any of the stops? I drove the boys up to school, teenagers grumbling every mile. The car was almost out of gas but I couldn’t make them late. I hate it when the car is out of gas. Think I’ll move to Australia.

After dropping them, I decided to go to the station with the touch free car wash so I could wash my hubby’s car for him. The last snow storm gunked it up! I got gas, paid for the car wash, then saw the closed sign. I popped in (still in my PJs) to ask why. He answered, “too cold.” I drove to the only other car wash in Conifer and scrounged for change to go with my $5 so I could pay two extra dollars. After all that, the machine wouldn’t take my $5 bill. Think I’ll move to Hawaii.

Enough was enough, I sat right down to my quiet time. I thanked God for helping me through the morning. I asked for protection, lifted up all on my list and I prayed for God to make me into a woman shining His light to everyone I meet, especially my family, and my awful mood lifted. I asked Him to erase my dark countenance.

I no sooner said amen when I remembered to fax a copy of the title to the bank for our refinance. Borrowing my neighbor’s fax machine (because mine just broke), the title somehow lodged in the machine. It took a good bit of coaxing and cajoling to remove it unharmed from the machine. Think I’ll move to Palisade.

My dark countenance returned with a vengeance when my middle son arrived with an attitude. No light from heaven, no sunny optimism spouting from my lips, no siree. How did I go from being determined to be like my best friend Jesus to all I meet, to a screaming meme in just a few short hours? I apologized to everyone as I was a brat to them all.

Then it hit me, I once had a sign in my 6th grade classroom that read “Attitude is Everything.” Oh, I know I will still have bad days but if I could cultivate an attitude of gratitude like Ephesians says. “In everything give thanks.” The key word in both sentences is everything. We are commanded to give thanks in success, in good times, in times of plenty and in not good times, in the hard stuff, in failure, loss and want. I desire to honor my Lord by being someone who looks at a car repair and is thankful she has a car; that deals with an attitudinal, ungrateful teen and is thankful he hasn’t been in a serious car accident like my friends son the same age. Every trial has something I can find to give thanks about. Besides, apart from a few horrific things in my life, most stuff I allow to cause my bad day is really an inconvenience, not a trial at all. And anyway, some days are like that even in Australia!

Snow, Snow Glorious Snow!

October 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

We live in the mountains above Denver, Colorado. We often have big snows, especially in March. One year, we had the daddy of all storms, one of those historic six and a half foot heavy wet snow storms.

Our three boys were in elementary school and the school was closed for a whole week. In Colorado that almost never happens!

The storm was so big, the weather guys saw it coming and predicted its arrival way in advance. We, being very scout like, went to the grocery store to stock up on provisions. Even shopping was fun as there was an air of excitement of the coming blizzard. Everyone was shopping for supplies. Many of the shelves were empty. We bought lots of food we could cook on the wood burning stove and eat without cooking just in case. And of course baking supplies.

Then it hit.

Unshoveled decks and roofs were collapsing all over town under the incredible weight of the heavy spring snow. Trees snapped and power lines were down.

Miraculously, we lost power for only a few hours the first day. Others went without for more than seven.

That glorious week holds some of my fondest memories of my children’s early years. We made snow ice cream (several times). We took clothes baskets outside and used them to make snow blocks, then stacked the blocks into an igloo. Our entire family, dogs and all crawled in to play cards by lantern light. We went sledding (of course), skiing, snow shoeing and even jumped off the wall into the snow drifts then crawled out. We made snow men (and women) that looked like us. Even a snow ball fight or two ensued battled behind snow walls.

We trudged to neighbors houses to offer our freshly baked cookies then sat by wood burning stoves drinking hot chocolate and eating s’mores while we warmed up. We watched movies and played Dominoes and Parcheesi. Bliss beyond words. Then we dug out!

Several of us able bodied neighbors and our kids went digging driveways and shaping paths from houses to garages, especially for our elderly neighbors. It really felt like a community.

There were so many times during the storm when neighbors helped each other out. A dear friend, just weeks before the storm, had given me a little plaque that read: Sometimes He calms the storm; sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms His child.

The new plaque, which I loved, sat right above my kitchen sink and almost every day I would read it and be reminded of something. One morning I thought, as I looked out the window at the group of snow shovel toting residents, how great it is that He uses His kids in each other’s lives to bring comfort and help.

Another day, as I watched the snow swirl and drift with the incredible force of the wind I was reminded that every storm we encounter in our lives whether emotional, physical or actual weather related, He controls. He can calm or let rage as He determines necessary. But the best thought of all came to me one morning as I was reading in the book of John. He can calm His child no matter what is happening around her, I found great comfort in that one.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

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