Let’s Heed It!

January 18, 2023 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –  

The car swung easily into the parking space at the far edge of the economy lot at Denver International Airport. I wrote the name “TROUT Row M”, on the top of my return ticket printout so I could find my car when I returned home in a few days. Then I boarded the plane for South Carolina to teach at a conference for caregivers.

The conference was glorious though exhausting, little sleep and constantly on the go. Consequently, when I walked down the ramp into the airport weariness was in every step. I looked at my return ticket to confirm my parking section. “Trout M” as I remembered. I collected my luggage and struck out to find my car.

The problem surfaced as I walked to where I remembered parking, and my written note confirmed. My car wasn’t there. I stood, a puzzled look on my face, as the shuttle driver passed and asked if I needed a ride. Waving him on, I pulled out my ticket and looked again. “Trout M” was clearly written on my ticket. I walked all the way back to the terminal, just to walk out again as if that would solve my problem. I prayed.

The shuttle driver again paused as he passed looking to see if I might wave him down, I did not. I prayed as I walked up and down every aisle in the Trout section in case I remembered my space wrong. Still, no car visible. The shuttle driver passed yet another time and offered me a ride. I declined. Panic was setting in, I considered calling the police to report my stolen vehicle when the shuttle driver came by one more time. Exhausted, I boarded the shuttle to ride to the terminal considering my options.

After hearing my dilemma, the driver suggested that I look in the west Trout lot instead of the east Trout parking lot, even offered to drive me there. Sure enough, there was my car parked exactly where I remembered and noted. Only this time I was on the west side of the airport. It looks strikingly similar to the east side, just saying. (Same drainage, sidewalks and landmarks near where I parked). Embarrassed would be an understatement. The kind driver assured me it happens all the time, but noted it took me an exceptionally long time to accept his offer of help.

Isn’t that what we do sometimes? So independent, praying for help but refusing it when He sends it. I could have been home in the time I spent dragging my exhausted body and luggage around that parking lot.

Since then, I am more willing to accept offers of help and to seek wisdom. James 1:5 says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (NIV).
Proverbs 2:6 also encourages us to seek wisdom from God: “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (NIV). However wisdom will only help if we heed it.

Just Do the Next Thing

December 24, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

Sometimes life comes at such a dizzying pace I am unsure how to proceed. Last fall was one of those times. We have a little family motel in Dubois, Wyoming, The Black Bear Inn, that we are working hard to rebuild. We work sixteen hour days all summer. When I arrive home in the fall, I generally sleep for a week.

But this year when I pulled into our driveway I knew it would be different.

We had invited an amazing college student from the Czech Republic to live with us and intern with my husband. I’ve worked the motel for several summers, which is usually the time a person would do fix-up projects like paint the homestead, etc. So to say that our house was in need of some serious TLC would be an understatement.

During the summers my husband is busy at work and in his off time he comes to the motel to see us and help there. So when I arrived home there was a mountain of work to make our house presentable to our new friend.

I sat down the morning after arriving home and made a list. It was daunting to say the least. As I pondered the task ahead the words of an old friend that had made our motel resurrection possible, rang in my head: “Just do the next thing.”

Every morning, I said to myself over and over, “Just do the next thing”, then prayed for wisdom on what to do next, plugged in my book on CD and went to work.

A few times during the next couple weeks I was amazed at how much I actually accomplished in one day by doing the next thing. So was my family.

In just two weeks I cleaned our house within an inch of its life; re-caulked the sinks and showers, painted and installed new flooring in one bathroom; cut, stained and installed trim for same; shampooed the main floor carpets; stained part of the house; cleaned off the deck piled high with detritus; cleaned out, furnished and decorated Martin’s room that hadn’t been used since he went to college (did I mention that a pack rat sneaked in undetected and died there a few weeks before I arrived home, AAAKKKK); moved the furniture in the living room; cleaned the yard and cut the weeds which filled nearly ten industrial trash bags; moved edging rocks in my garden that the snowplow had inadvertently moved the previous winter; and that wasn’t all.

I believe what my mother told me all those years ago is true: We can do anything we are willing to work hard enough to achieve.

So if you are faced with an overwhelming task just break it into little pieces, get a couple great books on CD then proceed with gusto to Do the Next Thing and you will conquer it as I did. Oh and do what James tells us to do…ask for wisdom on what the next thing should be (James 1:5).

Into the Furnace!

December 6, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

Late last year we had a severe cold snap. Thirteen below for over a week. Very unlike our mountains, especially that early in our winter season. One particularly windy morning I had the fire burning briskly in the fireplace as I sat writing at the computer on one side of the hearth that opens to two rooms.

All at once, a startling urge to look at the fireplace washed over me. The flames were so huge, and in the next instant the terrifying realization hit me that those flames were not IN the fireplace.

I dashed to the other side of the rock wall to see our parrot’s cage engulfed in flames, with Meyer in it. When he saw me, he screamed. I in turn screamed for my son, Matthew, to come help as I grabbed the half-full glasses of coffee and juice sitting on the table. I threw the contents at Meyer’s cage door so I could open it and attempt a rescue. As the fire raged around my head, I entered the inferno and reached for my terrified bird. I felt like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

He tried flying to me, but his left wing feathers were burned off. He fell onto the red-hot metal cage bars then immediately let go. I caught him midair just as Matthew appeared and began throwing the jugs of Kangen water (twelve gallons in all) we miraculously had sitting in the dining room at the rapidly growing flames.

I raced our panicked bird to an upstairs bathroom, away from the flames and smoke. We wanted no fried bird for dinner! I then dashed back down to help Matthew.

So many miracles surround that terrifying event. First of all, I wasn’t supposed to be there. But for a phone call from a dear friend, I would have been gone. We surely would have lost not only the bird, but Grammie downstairs, Matthew upstairs sleeping, our pooches Timo and Price, and our home.

The insurance is replacing the flooring in our kitchen, which I have always hated, and not only that room, but much of the downstairs. Not to mention that a very nice crew of folks came and washed EVERYTHING in our house, including every knick-knack, every wall, and even washed our laundry. Our house had never been so clean.

The most miraculous fact is that I practically crawled into a blazing furnace and all that happened to me was that I burned off my eyebrows and arm hair, and I have very short eyelashes now. Meyer bird is recovering nicely, too. His feathers are all growing back in and he doesn’t have to fly in circles with just one wing intact.

The big take-home for me is that God is with us, in the good times and there leading, guiding and directing in the scary horrifying times too. I can rest more securely in that great verse from Psalm 46:1, knowing we had angels working overtime that day.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (NIV).

The Ranks of the Bleary-Eyed

November 11, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

As a child, I never understood why my Mom and Dad were such sleepyheads on Christmas morning. Then we had kids, and my husband and I joined the ranks of the bleary-eyed. (All despite heroic attempts to get everything done before midnight). Yet even in my sleep-deprived state, I could not believe the joy it gave me to watch our kids’ faces as they peered at the gifts under the tree. It was as though their smiles and delighted squeals transported me back to my own childhood Christmas mornings, only better.

One year, in a feeble effort to get more sleep, Dave tied a rope to the doorknob of the boys’ room and pulled it across the hall closing it in our door so that they couldn’t open theirs until we opened ours. We laughed ‘till we cried when the boys woke at 5:00 a.m. and couldn’t get their door open. You should have heard the ruckus. We still laugh about that every Christmas.

When I was a youngster, my parents gave the countdown and my sisters and I tore into the gifts all at once. Dave’s family took a different approach that once I adjusted to, I love also.

Here’s how it worked. Christmas music drifted through the room, everyone munched on gooey homemade cinnamon rolls and the adults sipped coffee, as the boys sorted and handed out the packages. Then, one at time, starting with the youngest, the opening began. It was such fun seeing what everyone received AND their reactions.

The smallest in the group could play with their gifts and their stocking contents that we all opened at once before we began, while the older ones carried on with the opening. The result was a lovely, relaxed family time punctuated by a few great laughs when someone would open one of Papa’s goofy gag gifts. We still practice this method today with our nearly grown children and whoever we are blessed to have under our roof on Christmas morn.

I never understood why, if it is Christ’s birthday, we get the presents. So, when our kids were little, we started a new tradition. We all wrote what we were giving to Jesus on a card to put in His stocking on the mantel. After all the gifts were opened, someone would read His last (He is the oldest). Notes like the one Micah wrote when he was about eight:

Dear Jesus,

For Christmas for You I bought a present for the family we adopted through Angel Tree.

Love, Micah

I loved those days when our kids were little, but having adult kids has its merits also. Like the fact that because they are so tired when they come home from college, we practically have to drag them out of bed on Christmas morning.

The traditions we kept over the years with our boys have become my fondest memories of the season. Like Baby Jesus’ birthday party and white elephant gift exchange on Christmas Eve or gingerbread house making parties.

When people whine that Christmas decorations are going up in the stores too soon, I’m thrilled. It means my kids will soon be home and that we will be celebrating my best friend Jesus’ birthday. What could be better? Merry Christmas!

A LOT of Hot Air!

October 14, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

Every autumn, in Dubois Wyoming, near Yellowstone, we close and winterize our little motel, the Black Bear Inn. Draining the pipes prevents ruptures owed to the savagely cold winters. On several occasions, we have had to hire help to flush out the pipes. Last year, the men we contracted waited until after the first hard freeze. Their incompetence blew several expensive connections and cost us irreplaceable time while hustling to open in the spring. At that moment, we vowed to do the work ourselves, because replacing the cracked insides of nearly every toilet was such a pain in the drain.

When the time came to close the motel this year, all my assistants from home either fell ill or had prior engagements. Lee, my wonderful housekeeper, and her daughter, Sky, saved the day by helping prepare. However, we are not plumbers and were at a loss as to how to blow out the pipes once we drained them. During prayer request time at our church, I asked God to send anyone who knew plumbing preservation to help us accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task. God answered our prayer in the form of a cheerful handyman who volunteered to come the following morning and not only help but teach us how to do it ourselves.

Minutes into the project, our geriatric compressor blew a fuse and died. Generously, Lee volunteered the brand new compressor she recently purchased for her husband. After a few minutes of its service, the second compressor blew a gasket and perished. I called the local hardware store, whose owner was a dear friend of my late father-in-law, to inquire about renting a third compressor. When I arrived at the store he said, “I have the compressor for you, follow me.” We arrived at his place to find a compressor the size of my dining table mounted on a truck.

Once started, the compressor blew out the pipes in 30 minutes. However, it was so powerful we could not keep everything closed without blowing off the faucet heads. We solved this by opening all the faucets on the top half of the motel, then opening them all, to finally close the top leaving the bottom open, then repeat. It blew so much hot air that my hand under the sink faucet felt like a blow dryer was turned on it. Amazing how the right tool for the job makes it go more smoothly. It took us from about 9:00 am to 3:00 pm to find that tool but once we did, life was a breeze (more like a gale force wind).

Paralleled in our spiritual lives, issues arise where we don’t know what to do, or how to react. I have so often tried resolutions of my own. Inevitably, when I have killed my “geriatric compressor” (or brain) I resort to turning to the Lord. At least I used to. Now when something comes up that I’m not sure how to handle, I “seek WISDOM” in God’s Word, in prayer and from Godly friends.

James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (NIV).

I am determined to ask God for help as a first resort from now on, rather than a last one. Join me?

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