Popping, Snapping, Clicking, Whoosh!

September 21, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

Our little motel near Yellowstone in Wyoming finally joined the 21st century. Armed with a grant to cover the cost, the telephone and power companies joined forces and installed new fiber optics and updated power cables.

When the men came to visit with me about their plan and how they would have to trash my big flower bed, they seemed so afraid to tell me. They were scared of my reaction. It was early August and my flower beds gush flowers during August.

What they didn’t know is that even though I was able to coax and cajole that particular flower bed to produce beautiful blooms, it had been quite difficult to do. Rocks, rocks and more rocks, an old tree stump and old water and power lines made it nearly impossible to turn over the dirt. When I heard they would be coming to dig it up I was so excited! Their shocked faces were priceless when I asked “How soon can you get here to begin?”

Finally, our day came. The men arrived early in the morning to warn me so I could transfer the perennials to holding crates until they were finished. I watched them as they began the process of gouging across the bed and through the drive.

Standing near the edge of the 5 foot-deep hole, I discovered that the old stump was actually an old telephone pole that had been sawed off. It was three feet long. No wonder I couldn’t dig it up.

The man running the back hoe was coaxing giant rocks out of the opening. Just as I was about to say how close he looked to the wires, we heard a popping-snapping-clicking sound, and then “WHOOSH”.

Black smoke and big flames sprang from the line as it snapped. The man standing in the hole with a shovel jumped out in one terrified leap.

We looked up just in time to see the same flames and black smoke enveloping the side of our motel. And then nothing. The power was out. Not just on our property but all over town.

I had guests arriving in a few hours and no electricity. Our motel is not posh, but we at least have electricity. We waited for the electricians to come check it out. It took several hours and what they discovered was that the old telephone box, the one that is no longer in use, took the hit for the entire motel. I couldn’t believe it. (Secretly, I had hoped for new wiring…ha ha).

The electricity was knocked out clear to the substation but in just a few hours they had us back online. Before the guests even arrived.

I couldn’t help but think how amazing it was that the box took the hit for the entire motel. It kind of reminded me of how Jesus took the hit for the entire human race. I am ever thankful for that fact, and ever amazed that he would die for my sins, before I ever committed them. He died for you, too.

A New Red Light District?

August 20, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

Brick Red. How hard can it be? Much to my chagrin, I discovered that when one goes to a hardware store to choose and purchase paint it is wise to look at the color before leaving the store.

We were in the middle of the rebuild of our little family motel near Yellowstone in Dubois, Wyoming and had at last come to the painting of the garage. I posted a before picture to our Black Bear Inn Facebook page. We tore out the dilapidated old dog fence left by the previous managers, sent piles of detritus to the dumpsters, scraped, washed and vacuumed the building in preparation. I even found several perfect planters at a garage sale to put around outside and filled them to brimming with petunias that would make the place look inviting to our guests as they ate the s’mores we serve by the river campfire nightly.

After much deliberation, it was decided that we should paint the old cinder blocks brick color with white trim. You know that dark burgundy-ish old brick color.

My nephew, Jake, and I went to the closest lumberyard-only seventy-four miles away!- that carried five gallon jugs of paint, picked out the beautiful sample and commissioned a nice gentleman with the task of turning our world red.

When picking up the finished product I noticed that the sample he put on the color swatch wasn’t quite the color we had ordered but I assumed it must still be wet.
When we commenced painting, the color was very orange. Almost glowing orange. I so wish we could post pictures with these articles as that would be the laugh of the day. We kept saying, “It will dry darker.” But it did not.

The next Saturday, when I went to pick up my Bountiful Basket my dear neighbor asked if we were opening a new “red light district” over at the motel. It practically glowed orange. Ugh.

Since the garage needed two coats of paint I decided to give the guys at the lumberyard another chance. I went in and showed them a picture of my swarthy garage on the iPad. The man who waited on me was mortified; he assured me the next 5 gallons would be the correct shade.

When I picked up the finished jug this time I inspected the color closely. PINK. I couldn’t believe it. The woman at the desk said it is “the best they could do.” I politely explained that we could not have an orange OR a pink garage. So I left empty handed.

A few days later on a trip to Casper a nice man at Home Depot mixed the perfect color for me. It was the exact right color, that is until I painted it over the orange, at which point it turned an interesting shade of brown. I’m thinking the pink might have been better.

Now we have a rather different colored garage. I am amazed, but the new shade is growing on me.

The motel teaches me lots of lessons. This week’s was to go with the flow. I am learning to not sweat the small stuff, and with the exception of a very few things it is all small stuff. I love a saying my Dad would use when we were growing up and things would go wrong: “If this is the worst thing that happens to us today we are set.” He was right.

All the Flowers in the World

July 31, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

We journeyed to our little motel full of hopes that the aging plumbing and electrical systems had weathered the winter and would spring to life as easily as they had the year before. Jake, my 20 year-old nephew, was coming to Wyoming with us to work for the season. This was his first time to visit the gorgeous country we are so blessed to live in during the summers. I warned him that it was back-breaking work, with long hours, especially that first week. But I had no idea…

After traveling 12 hours we pulled the van into the driveway of the motel just as the sun was setting. We managed to get the power up and running, but because we have to be present when the water comes on, in case of major leaks, we had to wait until the next morning to get the plumbing going. Fortunately, the rain collection bucket near the apartment was full to overflowing so we could have a “flush.”

The next morning, we were so sad to discover that the folks we hired to blow out the pipes waited too long the previous fall. We had SEVERAL major leaks to contend with. Joints blown out by water left in the pipes when that first hard freeze happened meant three days of crawling under the motel, partly on my belly, trying to locate and repair leaks. I discovered that if I wore long sleeves and pants, gloves and a hat, I wouldn’t get bitten by any little critters under there. All this with no shower. I’m sure I was a charming sight (and smell). I, however, now know how to repair ANY part of a toilet, sink, and (amazing to me!) the large intake valve to an 80-gallon water heater. Every cloud has a silver lining.

If our little family motel in Dubois, Wyoming has taught me anything, it is that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).
As I crawled along under the motel, I kept thinking about the million other things I should be doing to get ready for our first reservations to arrive on June 1st . Like planting the flats and flats of flowers wilting in their little pots. But the water has to come first. It’s the funniest thing, if there is no water for our guests to take a shower in and drink, all the flowers in the world won’t make a difference, but when there is water the flowers are an amazing addition.

Kind of like our lives, if we don’t have Christ, all the fluff of the world isn’t worth a thing, but become best friends with the Creator of the universe, and suddenly there is a kind of joy, even in hardships, that outshines anything the world can offer.

Every year opening the motel is an adventure, and every year I find many similarities between running our business and running our lives. Both always go better with Jesus at the helm.

Pick Up Too Many and Your Pants Fall Off!

June 1, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

We are avid rock hounds. The area surrounding Dubois, Wyoming, where our little motel is, is a geologist’s paradise. So varied and rich is it that a university from Florida brings students every year to learn in God’s classroom.

Since our motel is a family-run business, for 6 days a week in the summer it is 16 hours a day of tiring work. However, on the Lord’s Day we do only what is absolutely necessary, go to church, and then head to the hills in search of archeological treasures.

We load up terrific snacks, warm socks and jackets to put on after the hunt, large five gallon buckets to carry through the streams and rivers collecting our finds, sunscreen, hats and a rock book or two.

Our three sons, my husband and I have so much fun searching the stream beds for the best find of the day. If you have boys you may have noticed that nearly everything is more fun if it is a contest. One day I found a piece of crystalized petrified wood that looks exactly like an angel. I won that day! (So wish we had room for pictures here, but it is in the video for our motel if you would like to see it).

When our oldest was about 5 or 6 (now he is 21) he was wearing a pair of shorts with deep pockets. As he walked along in the stream bed finding petrified wood, droosies, agates and more he kept putting them into his pockets.

Finally the weight was too much and when he put the last one in his shorts just fell off. Right there in the middle of the stream. He was mortified, we were all hysterical and I of course had to snap a picture.

We have been doing this for a decade and a half in the summers. In the past our boys made fun of me for picking up too many rocks like Martin did. I brought whatever seemed interesting or different. The boys are now so much more discerning, only lugging the most amazing finds home.

In recent years, I too have become more selective. I know there are lots of good rocks out there, but now I choose to carry the load of only the best.

It is kind of the same in my life. I am a recovering people pleaser. There was a time when I was young that if anyone asked me to help with anything I said yes, many times regretting it later when I was overburdened with too many irons in the fire.

As I have aged, I have discovered that there are many good rocks (and uses for my time) but it is way more productive to choose the best and focus on those. Less weight to carry back to the truck (and more ability to do a good job on the things I agree to do).

I have to admit that sometimes I still pick up too many treasures (and find myself overcommitted on occasion) out of the streams but we are all a work in progress.

Touched by an Angel

April 28, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

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).

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