By Liz Cowen Furman -
Two weeks before my first writer’s conference I was in a car accident. Rear ended at a stop sign, I contracted a closed head injury.
One of the biggest challenges for closed head injury patients is that any information or sensory overload makes the patient very tired. A writing conference? What was I thinking?
I planned to travel back to Denver nightly to save money. The first evening, I was so exhausted I didn’t think I could drive across the street, let alone the dark, windy road down the mountain.
$42 is the sum total of the money I had for the week, but I knew it was not possible for me to drive home. I decided to ask if there might be an old room or even a closet, where I could just lay down.
With a big bruised forehead, and both eyes rather blackened,. I practically crawled up to the desk at the YMCA. A cheerful middle-aged woman listened as I shared my situation. She smiled, “Let me see what I can find. Well, look here, I could put you in the outdoor lab building. You’ll have your own bed and bath, but will share the building with many children, would that work?”
“I’m a teacher, with three small boys, that would be perfect.” I was afraid to ask the price.
She winked “Would $40 for three nights be possible?”
“For all three nights?” I croaked.
Very matter-of-factly, “You need to stay for the whole conference don’t you?”
Walking to the bunkhouse, I decided I could just eat the snacks put out for the conferees and lose a few pounds as I had just gladly given my food money for a bed. Weary as I was, I didn’t care if I ever ate again.
Opening the room door I was stunned, a queen and two sets of bunk beds in a lovely room. I sank onto the bed and opened the envelope. When I opened the folded receipt a meal ticket for the whole week fell into my lap. With tears flowing down my cheeks, I slid off the bed onto my knees to thank God for His provision.
Next evening, I decided to thank the woman for her kindness, so I went back to the office. I asked the clerk if Linda was working. She looked puzzled, “We don’t have a Linda working here.”
I said, “Oh maybe I have the name wrong. She is blond, about 50, very pretty and VERY nice, she was here last night.”
She shook her head again, “I’m sorry but we don’t currently even have any blonds working here.”
I walked away in disbelief.
Had I just been touched by an angel?
Every year but one since 1997, I have made my way to Estes Park in May to enjoy one of my favorite weeks of the year at the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference. Now, by God’s amazing grace, I get to teach there too, but few years have rivaled the blessings I enjoyed at that very first one.
This, and many other instances in my life, have brought the words in Hebrews 13:2 to life.
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (KJV).
By Liz Cowen Furman -
The thunder boomed. We ran to the windows and watched the rain come down in buckets. I felt like Noah. I looked down from the top of our 20% grade drive and saw several infant canyons forming.
That spring convinced me that there is no way it took several hundred millennia to create THE magnificent canyon. A few hundred wet springs max and voila, the Grand Canyon.
Matthew, our middle son, and I were home alone. We sprang into action with hoes and shovels. Toiling in the icy mountain spring rain, and with fervor, we attempted to redirect the torrents of water. Such a rare (to Colorado) wonderful wet spring caused the drainage gutters to overgrow with thick grass. We hadn’t even noticed the danger growing there. So, with nowhere to run, the water shed to our gravel driveway and more specifically to the middle of the drive.
As it flowed, it took with it the soil and gravel too weak to stand against the pressure and power of the rushing water.
Drenched to the bone and shivering as the clouds rolled away, I noticed several stones stayed put. Those anchored into the ground somehow managed to stand. Some of the trenches were over two feet deep and in only a few minutes.
We walked to the bottom of the driveway and were horrified to see literally several tons of gravel, sand and dirt on the paved street below our house.
I noticed so many analogies in that storm. First, in storms and life it seems, only those anchored to The Rock will stand the test of the really big ones. When tragedy strikes if we aren’t tethered to the Rock we wash out.
Then there is the sad realization that a super storm takes out not only those not anchored but as the water gushes, it sweeps away the surrounding bystanders too. There were several small rocks piled behind the big anchored ones left in the trenches. I want to be one that others can cling to in a storm, not because of me, but because I have the power of Him shining through me.
The most troubling analogy? The weeds that went unnoticed until it was too late. They just grew on the side of the road like some of the sins in our hearts. When the storm came, they kept the safeguard gutters from working. Since it is the time of year for April showers…I’m thinking it might also be time for some spring cleaning. Not just in my house and driveway, but in my heart as well.
The last observation really hit us, for days after the storm. With our wagon and shovels, we had to clean up from the mess the storm left. Just like the storms in our lives, if we let those things go unchecked, then we won’t stand strong in a storm and will have a mess to clean up, too.
If we had just taken inventory of our driveway, a little spring-cleaning, if you will, then when the storm blew through, all we would have had to do is a little emergency adjustment shoveling to make sure the water shed to the gutters.
Starting this spring, I want to do constant inventory so that when the storm rolls in I will be the one standing on the rock for others to cling to. How about you?
By Liz Cowen Furman -
Since March is big basketball time, I was recalling basketball events in my past. My husband is a coach (a good one) and all three of our boys played. I even coached Micah’s team when he was in 5th grade.
When our oldest was in 9th grade at Conifer High School, he was on the freshman basketball team. Coach Wilson was a wonderful coach, he made the boys believe they could do anything. He also knew the game of basketball, not just how to play, but how to teach others to play the game, which I have discovered is a wonderful combination not often found in coaches.
Our archrival was Evergreen High School and the day before the big varsity game, the freshman team played. My two younger boys and I arrived at Evergreen’s gym over an hour before the freshman game was scheduled to start as I had the wrong time. Typical. The Evergreen varsity team was still practicing.
We quietly sat down in the stands to watch. As I listened to the coach, I heard him shout at one young man, “You be Eddy” and then to my surprise, the entire team tried to figure out what to do to stop Eddy. Aaron Eddy was one of our star varsity players.
I sat there musing about how wonderful it would be to be the big menace. Such a threat that the whole opposing team would be trying to figure out how to stop you. I had to tell his Mom when I saw her the next day. We laughed aloud. I’m sure when she shared that news with her son, he was thrilled.
Later, it struck me. In the spiritual realm, I want to be Eddy!
I want to be so close to Jesus, so in tune with His plan that Satan and his minions will forever be trying to figure out how to get around me.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not taunting Satan. I know he is the ruler of this world, Jesus said so in the book of John. I understand the pain and suffering he can cause. However, I read to the end. We WIN. As long we are on Jesus’ team, no matter how difficult the journey to the finish line, we can know, we win. I take great comfort in that thought!
So don’t lose heart. Stay on the winning team; join with me in being a thorn in the side of the one who causes pain. Let’s be people of prayer, people of action, people of decision and cultivate a thankful heart. Then watch what happens!
By Liz Cowen Furman -
“He is acting so awful!” said my oldest of my youngest while home from college for Christmas. “Ahhh, almost exactly like you did at 17,” was my reply.
I find it amazing how things that seemed so awful or important at the time have dimmed now that I am almost looking in the rear view mirror at our three sons’ growing up years.
Oh, some highlights of their childhoods stand out, but mostly I remember the good times. The amazing fun we had and how much I love them. Time gives an amazing perspective.
One such memory still makes me laugh. When our oldest (now 21, then a little over 3) was having a very difficult time potty training, I was at my wit’s end. We tried every tactic anyone offered, and there were plenty, to no avail. I had visions of him heading off to kindergarten in pull-ups. I am a kindergarten teacher so that would not do!
My friend Lis, whose four children were about eight years older than mine, very wisely commented while we were chatting one day. “You know Liz, I wish I had had my third child perspective when I was working with my first child. Things would have been much easier for both of us.”
Her comment gave me pause. As I drove home, I decided to back off. Completely. I would not mention the potty training issue again for a while. You know what? Two weeks later, Martin decided to potty train himself.
I could not believe it. Apparently, I thought Martin’s ability to learn to take care of himself rested squarely on my shoulders. After all, I am his mother. I guess what I should have said is that I was having a very difficult time trying to potty train my son. He was not having a problem at all.
I wonder if my Father and best friend, Jesus, ever waits to respond to my pleas for help when He has already answered, or has given me what I need to solve a problem. Since He is all wise, all knowing and completely in control (see Psalm 33:1; Proverbs 16:9 and Revelation 3:7) I could imagine Him doing that.
Don’t get me wrong! I am a firm believer that if it is important to me, it is important to God. But, once in a while I cry out for help when the problem is either already in the works of being solved, or I have the ability to fix whatever is broken.
Because of this revelation, I have resolved to resist mistrust of my best friend when He seems to not be listening. Rather, I will look around and see if maybe I missed something. Maybe dig a bit deeper to look for a solution that might already be there, even pray for Him to open my eyes to see it.
However, if I don’t find it, then pray on I will. I know that He loves me, listens to me and answers my prayers, so I have complete confidence in my Savior to help me when I need it ~and you can too!
By Liz Cowen Furman -
Every year when the New Year rolls around and everyone is talking about New Year’s resolutions, I have felt compelled to join in. Over the years, I’ve had several. One year I was going to get in shape and lose a bunch of baby weight (my kids are all in their teens or 20s now so this was a day or two ago). I started out great; eating less, running or walking more. However, as the weeks went by and melted into months so did my resolve. Failure.
Another year I was going to stop eating sugar (oh yeah, right.) That only lasted until February with the next eat sugar until you drop holiday. Failure.
Yet another New Year found me determined to get organized. I am a piler; it is the plight of being a teacher I think. Do you know what a piler is? A person who has a pile for this project and a pile for that job is a piler. Mine are usually organized; at least I know where everything is. My husband would beg to differ however. Just as all the other resolutions failed so did this one.
After so many failures, in order to avoid being a failure, I quit making resolutions. Then a couple of years ago, our pastor suggested instead of all those other resolutions, as good as they might be, that we focus on our relationship with the Savior. Get a lined journal, he encouraged. Each morning open your Bible and start reading, looking for a nugget for you that day. Start in the Psalms. When you read something that really speaks to you, copy the verse and cite into your journal and write what you are thinking about or write a prayer asking God to help you get it or apply it or whatever fits.
So I did. An amazing thing happened. My quiet time and time spent in the Bible transformed from something I did mostly out of duty to something I look forward to every day. I can’t wait to crack open the Word and dive in every morning. Verses I’ve read a million times have come alive for me on a whole different level. (Proof that the Bible is a living document, like scripture claims). If I have to miss a day or two, (life happens sometimes); I just pick it back up and go forward. No guilt and no trying to make up the lost days, just going forward. It works! Instead of fulfilling a resolution or goal I grew in my relationship with my best friend Jesus. I guess you could say that instead of being a follower of Jesus I became a friend of His. Big difference.
If you are tired of all those failed resolutions like I was, try this one for 2013. See if you are as encouraged as I. Scripture promises that His Word never comes back void. I’m thinking this might be the only New Year’s Resolution I will ever make.