By Liz Cowen Furman –
After months of fighting it off, I succumbed to the bug my son and his basketball team passed around all season. I discovered something. I am a wimp. I cannot imagine how they played basketball with this sickness causing fever and ache to the very marrow of the bones. Ahh, youth.
As teenagers are wont to do, they kept going even when the bug struck. In one game my son played, he made seventeen points, then came home and collapsed for the entire weekend. He was so ill, but nothing would stop him from playing.
Determined to have a different season than in previous years, they now had much-loved coaches they would work forever to please. As a mom, I sometimes wished the sick kids would have been sent home, not to share their germs, but in the end they were learning to be part of something bigger than themselves.
At one game early in the season, a mom sitting next to me said, “Oh no! I just realized that the combined ages of our three coaches is less than my age.” Hoots of laughter. What the coaches lacked in years they made up for in passion. Our son, Matthew, 20, was the level three coach.
Their season record wasn’t great but several of their losses were by 2 or 3 points, not the usual 20-40 from the previous coaches’ reign.
The season finale was against archrival Evergreen. A nemesis they hadn’t beaten in eight years. Every time we play them a thousand fans attend. Evergreen won by 29 points earlier in the season. The last game was also senior night so all the parents (even grandparents) attended.
The local newspaper showed, and the concessions stand burst with meal deals to sell. Three hundred cupcakes stood at the ready for players and their families after the game.
In the locker room pregame, Coach Eric showed a video he made of their season. Then he stood up and said, “What do you want your legacy to be…?” He later said after his speech he looked up and most of the seniors were teary eyed. He thought his plan had backfired.
What happened when the boys took the floor won’t be forgotten any time soon.
I’ve never seen such determination in the eyes of our boys. We won handily by 18 points, (19 of which were my senior son Micah’s—I had to throw that in because I’m his mom) but what was so fun to see was the way they played.
All the previous years of agony with a bad coach and all the ego-deflating losses they endured somehow melted away that night. When they remember their high school basketball careers, they will no doubt remember the win against Evergreen in front of God and everybody!
I am beyond thankful for the three coaches they had this year. After the final buzzer Coach Eric kissed his hand and pointed heavenward, in a gesture of thanks to the Father for granting them this win. Priceless.
By Liz Cowen Furman –
What matches the excitement of an airplane trip? As a child, when I saw a plane overhead I said, ‘someone is going somewhere.’ I always wanted to GO SOMEWHERE. At that stage of my life, with a few exceptions, I took trips by reading books instead of hopping a plane. Books are great, yet nothing matches the feeling of stepping off a plane into some distant land you have never actually seen, smelled or felt.
Recently, we were planning to take our youngest to check out colleges in Florida. Suddenly, we discovered my husband had to have surgery. We had to get the trip in before, as I would not be able to leave for a long stretch once he had surgery, and then it would be Eagle Court of Honor and graduation time.
While I was at work, my son made the reservations for us. The next day when we went to print our boarding passes and leave for the airport my husband realized the tickets were for a week hence.
Panic would be an understatement; in searching for the best short notice deals he made our trip out on one airline and our trip back on another. Oh, and he put the wrong name on my ticket. Learning curve.
I prayed, then called the airlines and explained our dilemma. To our great surprise and relief they both called it a ‘same day ticket error’ and gave us our money back, so we were able to reschedule.
At the airport, we plopped our stuff in the bins to be x-rayed. As mine went through, the tub turned upside down. All the contents fell out and my driver’s license went missing. I prayed silently until a very nice TSA agent found it under the x-ray machine. Thank you, Jesus.
When we bought dinner at Panda Express my veggies tasted like seafood. I am allergic to shellfish and I did not bring my EpiPen, so I was fearful. On the moving walkway I told Micah it felt like something was messing with us. We prayed.
As we sped away from New Orleans Airport the storm hit. Thunder and lightning flashed and crashed as the radio barked out tornado warnings. We prayed again. When the clouds rolled away we thanked our Protector.
That is how the trip went: Storms came; we prayed. Storms went.
We thanked Him for His protection and direction. We felt we were being attacked and protected at every turn. Just like life, when ‘storms’ hit we pray, and when we are protected we give thanks. When it seems we aren’t protected, we give thanks anyway, knowing that His hand is on us even when it doesn’t seem or feel like it. Because we know from Jeremiah 29:11 we are secure,we can rest under His wings.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
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.
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).
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).