No Way

“Can you open your mouth like a big girl?” She asked. The hygienist couldn’t have been any nicer, but she was up against a rebel.

She had even put sunglasses on her so that the light above her head wouldn’t hurt her eyes.

“I just need to count all of your teeth.”

I watched as she clamped her lips tighter together and shook her head no.

“You have to let her help you,” I said, thinking I could convince her.

This was the first time I had taken my youngest daughter to the dentist for an exam and cleaning, and her two-year-old plus self wanted nothing to do with it.

Between this lady and me, we went around and around with her for thirty minutes. Her mouth stayed slammed shut. Finally, she said,

“I don’t think she is going to cooperate. You will have to reschedule. I have another client coming, and we need this exam room.”

This little girl had just pushed my patience farther than anyone had ever. Her sister always complied, and I had never seen this brick wall behavior before.

I was trying not to say a word even though I could not believe that a preschooler was running the show. I expected her to act better than that.

The minute we got outside of the suite and into an empty hallway, she threw the nuclear bomb.

“That was easy,” she said with a slight smile.

If she had stayed quiet or said she was scared, that would have been a different story.

I could not believe she so casually said that. Where had she possibly gotten such a stubborn nature from? The apple hadn’t fallen that far from the tree, but I didn’t recognize it then.

I could not contain myself any longer. In a yell whisper, I said,

“You will never do that again. When someone asks you to do something, you will do it.”

I saw that what I was saying wasn’t sinking in, so I added,

“I’m skipping the toy store. I was going to take you there after this, but you didn’t let her look at your teeth.”

That struck a nerve. I started walking toward the exit.

“I will go back in! Please!”

“It’s too late. They have other people coming now.”

She was in anguish all the way home. I was hoping she was learning something, but it was hard to tell with this one.

The following week when we returned, she did everything that was asked of her, and I then took her to Toys R Us.

For years, it was a reward for her following upsetting times like when she had to go to the doctor for immunizations. And it held happy memories like when she had been given money to spend. Even though other stores had the same products, the glistening aisles, and the giraffe meant the world to her.

When they announced their bankruptcy and possible closure, she followed every scrap of information to see if there would be a last minute rescue operation.

On the day that the founder and original owner died, the company made it public that they were going out of business for good. It was reported that the people who had taken it over had run it directly into the ground, and there wouldn’t be any saving it.

As the emptying of the building progressed, everything was on sale. One night we went to see what was left. Light fixtures and shelving were everywhere, waiting to be purchased. What had held such great memories for her looked empty and lonely.

As we were leaving, she saw a shopping cart.

“I want that,” she said.

“Really? Why?”

“It’s from here.” It was a way to hang on to something from her childhood.

We found an employee, and $35 later, she was the proud owner of the big blue cart.

I opened the back of my car and flipped both seats down. Neither one of us had any clue how we were going to fit it in. We tried shoving it in one way, and it got stuck. For sure, we reasoned, if we jam it in the other way, it will slide right in. It was not working no matter what we did. At one point, I went into the store to see if they had any tools. I was going to try and take it apart.

“We don’t have tools. We sold them.”

Of course.

I went back to the car where she was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

After an hour, I had visions of her pushing it home. I looked up how long it would take. An hour and forty minutes seemed a bit steep. There were sidewalks along the way, and when I mentioned it, she paused her attempt at getting it into my car. Her eyes were wild, and I saw sweat on her brow. The look I got was piercing and somewhat scary.

“No! I keep seeing myself doing that! I’m not doing that!”

I started laughing as I saw it more clearly in my mind. Her schlepping it all the way home would look a lot like she was wandering the streets homeless.

“I will drive slow and follow you,” I suggested trying not to laugh more.


I could not stop laughing. I don’t know if the summer heat was getting to me mixed with desperation or what.

What happened next is still unexplainable, but she snapped and suddenly wasn’t willing to play this game anymore. Similar to when a pregnant lady lifts a car off of someone pinned underneath it, she gathered together her strength and applied it to this situation.

With a forceful shove and a primal-like scream, it popped right in. She stomped off to get into the front seat. She had somehow solved the puzzle, like a Rubix Cube. I was astonished she had done it by herself.

“How did you get that in there?” I said, pulling out of the parking lot.

“I don’t know. I got angry, and it went in as it should have over an hour ago!”

I laughed, thinking of the alternative if it hadn’t.

Once I pulled into the garage, I figured it would be easy for us to remove it, but I was wrong. We were right back at square one.

“What is with this thing!” I said. More perspiration and it not budging. Now I was getting worried.

“What if we can’t get this out? I will have to drive around with a Toys R Us cart in the back of my car forever!”

“Stop!” She said, trying to catch her breath.

Her sister wandered out to help.

“How did you get this in there?”

“We don’t know,” I said.

All three of us put in our best effort from various angles. My concern was growing exponentially, and there wasn’t any way to take this molded piece of plastic apart.

“What if I have to sell my car someday? Who is going to want this?”

I could see the ad: It even comes with a shopping cart!

“Stop!” She said again, with her irritation charging off the charts.

I stood back to observe. I was at a total loss. It was like one of those moments when you wished it was a bad dream.

“I’m going in the house for a minute,” I said.

I realized that looking at the mess we were in wasn’t helping me solve the dilemma, and I had to get away from it.

I had read so many books that had discussed the benefits of visualization and seeing the outcome. I sat on the couch, closed my eyes, and imagined her coming in the door telling me she had figured it out. I felt like this was more productive than me watching and worrying.

Within a very short while, the door opened, and she said,

“I got it out!” Exactly what I saw in my imagination.

Like birthing a baby with sheer determination, she had single-handedly yanked it out of my car.

“You did?”

“Yes!” And she collapsed in a heap on the floor. She was more mentally tired than anything.

This speaks to what we are capable of if we put our mind to it. Each one of us can overcome every obstacle that comes our way. She kept trying no matter how much effort was required, and I removed myself to help her more.

In Isaiah 40:29 it says:

He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might, He increases strength, causing it to multiply and making it abound. (AMP)

I knew that my negativity and fear were not helping, so I turned my attention inward to what we wanted instead of what we didn’t want.

In Hebrews 11:1, it is described like this:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

I saw what hadn’t happened yet, and then it materialized. I sat in the comfort of my air-conditioned house without stress or strain and saw the best images I possibly could.

Each of us has been given the ability to overcome anything if we are willing to apply our faith. To the unsuspecting eye, it looked like I had fallen asleep in the living room, but I was putting in as much work as she was.

The combination of her not giving up and me seeing the solution freed us from all toil. Our repeated actions were not making any difference, and it wasn’t until I tried something else we made progress.

When tenacity is combined with the simple act of prayer, heaven seems to suddenly jump into action to make a way where there seems to be no way.

The Puzzle
Looks so simple…

Come To The Table

At the beginning of November, my daughter and I began the quest to find a table for our kitchen.

In 2011, we had packed up our house and moved to Arizona where we thought we would reside indefinitely. Within 11 months, I was back to where I started, however, I had given away my dining room table and six chairs. I had put all of it under a tree on my boulevard with a free sign. A lady came to my door and asked,

“Is that really for free?”

“Yes, I am moving and it is just too much to take with me.”

“I need a table just like that.  I have six kids and can’t afford one right now. Is it okay if I have a friend help me haul it to my house?”


I ended up standing guard by it until she returned. As it was being loaded up into a truck, she had tears in her eyes.

“Now we can have a meal at a real table with chairs.”

After moving back to my house, we ‘temporarily’ filled in the space by putting up a long white plastic work bench. It served its purpose for longer than it should have, and six years later, we couldn’t stand it anymore. It was a good place to lay a purse, work on a project or throw junk mail, but without enough chairs, it certainly was not a table to have a meal or gather around regularly. It had really become an eyesore.

Off we went one Saturday to find the replacement. I learned quite quickly how to spot the hovering sales people. I would see a clipboard and suddenly my pace would go into turbo speed, and I would weave in a pattern much similar to what I have heard survivalists teach if you don’t want to get shot. If you move fast enough, and change direction repeatedly, you have a better chance of not getting hit.

I did find myself trapped on one occasion. I think I got so wrapped up in looking that I didn’t see him coming out of my peripheral vision.

“Do you need any help with anything?”

I gave the customary response, “No, we are just looking today.” Smile.

I really don’t mind having help when I need it, and I know he needs to make a living, but sometimes I feel like I cannot have a moment just to contemplate and think as we were shopping.

He nodded politely and said,

“If you need me for anything, let me know.”

I assured him that I would as she and I continued to browse.

Less than five minutes later, he was back by my side. This is when I really had to paste on a happy face because I don’t like to be pressured.

“Anything yet?” He inquired.

“No, we are still looking,” I said less enthusiastically.

Putting his clipboard under his arm so he wouldn’t drop it, he put both of his hands together in the form of a prayer. He slightly bowed and said,

“Your journey continues then.”

I expected a gong to sound as if I was on an episode from the old 70’s show Kung Fu.

“Yes, yes it does,” I said trying not to laugh because he was being serious.

Many furniture stores later, and two Saturdays lost, I said to my daughter,

“We are done looking. The table needs to come to us. God is going to have to send it to us.” She agreed as she was not enjoying the search any more than I was.

On the Saturday night after Thanksgiving, I came home and put on my comfy new pajamas, got something to drink and plopped on the couch ready to relax. The big meal was over, I had gotten some baking done over the weekend, and I was ready to be quiet. I started watching a show I had recorded while my daughter was sitting in a chair working on her computer.

I suddenly woke up with a jolt to my own loud snore! Very unladylike, but the fatigue was real.

“Darn! I have missed part of my show,” I said. Just as I was reaching for the remote to rewind, a furniture commercial came on.

I saw a table and set of four chairs.

“Hey! Have you looked into this place?”

“No,” she said. I rewound the commercial which was quite short so we could see it again. Had I not woken up, we would have missed it.

We both went online and saw that they were having a sale that ended the next day, so we agreed that it would be worth the trip.

Interestingly, no salesperson greeted us at the door. We zipped over to what we both knew we would like and took a few moments to admire it and picture how it would look in the kitchen. I had to track down a lady for help.

Less than 24 hours later, a table and four chairs had been purchased and ready for delivery.

I realized that while I was not paying attention, literally snoring on the couch, the table and chairs had indeed found us. Instead of sweating it out searching, I had just thrown up a request before heaven, and my prayer was answered.

The set was delivered today, and as the delivery guy put it together he said,

“This is a nice table.  I don’t know why they discontinued it.  You aren’t going to find this one again.”

He didn’t know it had found me.

How much more could be accomplished on our behalf if we would just ask, rest and trust? Our loving Creator tells us to freely come to the table.


Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)




A Good Vibe

I was in need of a new vehicle right after my divorce, and I had never bought a car on my own. When I was in high school, my older sister sold hers to me, and when I got married my spouse made the choice. So the idea of going to a dealership and trying to find something new was a little bit scary for me.  I enlisted my dad to ride shotgun so he could give me good advice.

We pulled into the first dealership and he said,

“Try to avoid the salesman. Drive around a bit.”

I did my best. How does one navigate an eight passenger van and go unnoticed? We saw a guy trying to approach us when my dad said,

“Turn. Turn. Don’t let him get near us!”

I swiftly turned the wheel to dodge him and it became a giant game of cat and mouse.  I wasn’t able to look at cars because I was too preoccupied deciding which way to go to dodge this stranger who my dad had deemed as a heat seeking missile.

“These guys are all out to take your money. You can’t even look and they start to bother you.”

This went on far too long until I thought the person went left but he faked me out and darted right so he could catch up to the passenger side of the car. He stood by the door and made a motion for my dad to roll down his window. My dad sat stiff and didn’t move a muscle with his eyes locked straight forward.

“I think he wants you to roll down the window so he can talk to you.”

“I know what he wants. He wants our money.”

I hit the button on my side of the car to open the window. I heard quiet giggles from my two girls in the backseat.

“What brings you folks out?” the man asked.

“I am looking for a new car,” I said. My dad wasn’t offering any type of friendly chatter.

“Well, we have a lot of them, ” he said with a smile.

“We are just driving through to look around,” I replied. I was feeling somewhat anxious since I was the only one holding up the conversation from the car.

“I am hoping to trade in this van and get something different.”

The salesman reached in and placed his hand on my dad’s shoulder.

“I am sure we could find you something here,” he said with a bright smile.

I saw my dad glance down at the guy’s hand and then said,

“What are you doing? Seeing where you can stick your knife into me? Trying to find the soft spot?”

The man’s eyes widened as he retreated a few steps back from the car. My dad took himself off of mute and continued,

“Well, you know you guys are all alike. You just want to take our money.”

Again, I heard small muffled laughter from the backseat.

The salesman tried to keep himself composed.

“No. I just want you to find a new vehicle that you would like.”

“Riggghht. And, take our money,” my dad shot back.

This was not going how I thought it would.

“Drive around and see if there is anything you like, and if you do, come find me.” He stalked off.

After a few moments, I said,

“Why don’t we try another place?”

For some reason, I kept feeling like there was something I was missing. I had no clue what I was doing and my dad was driving away the help.

He suggested another dealership, so I went there.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw an orange car sitting near to where I parked. I got out of the van, pointed at it and said,

“I think that is my car.”

“What?” my dad said.

“That is my car. I think that is the one.”

“You haven’t looked at anything yet.”

“I know. That’s it.”

I had no sooner spoken when we saw a man coming toward us.

“Here he comes,” my dad grumbled under his breath.

The man extended his hand and said,

“Hi, my name is Randy.”

My dad reciprocated by saying,

“You guys are all nuts!”

I saw Randy’s smile fade. So, when he turned to me I said,

“Nice to meet you. My name is Chris, and I am sorry about that. He doesn’t trust car salesmen.”

“I know there are people out there who aren’t so nice,” Randy said. “I am not one of them.”

My dad chuckled. To most people unaware, they would have thought my dad was being jovial.  I knew it was one of those laughs that meant he didn’t believe the guy for a minute.

I decided to test drive the car and soon found myself in a negotiation over a 2005 burnt orange Pontiac Vibe. As I went back and forth with costs, my dad appeared out of no where with a powdered donut in one hand and white sugar surrounding his lips. When he spoke a puff of white dust filled the airspace. Somebody apparently had found the free snacks by the coffee.

“What is going on? Are you getting it?”

“I don’t know, ” I said. “He is going back and forth with the manager trying to help me get a lower price.”

My dad disappeared and returned crunching down a bag of popcorn.  It was like he was at the state fair eating his fill.

“This is the best we can do,” Randy said.  “He won’t go any lower.”  He placed a piece of paper with a number on it in front of me.

“Then, I am not going home with the car. That is still too high.”

“Are you sure? It’s a really nice car with low miles and would be very dependable.”

“I just can’t do that much right now. Thank you for helping me.”

 I was surprised by how determined I had become in such a few short hours.  I thought my dad would do all the talking but he was too busy chewing.  However, I learned that I did have the courage to venture into something I hadn’t ever done before, and I didn’t crawl out the door or hang my head. That car was supposed to be mine, but I wasn’t going to bite off more than I could handle financially. 

I shook his hand, and I really was grateful for his attempts. He looked sad as I walked away, and I felt that it wasn’t so much about him not making the sale but about me not getting the car.

I got back into the van, and dropped off my dad so he could be home in time for dinner, although he had eaten his way through the dealership. We had spent the entire afternoon on one car and I had come home without anything to show for it. The word frustrated didn’t even come close to how I felt because I knew without a doubt that the car I had test driven was meant to be mine.

I prepared dinner and tried to take my mind off of it.  While cleaning up the dishes, my youngest daughter said,

“I went online and looked at the car.  I think the price is lower.”

“I don’t even want to talk about the car,” I said. I couldn’t take it.  Not purchasing it was bothering me, and I figured she was just trying to make me feel better.

“Let me show you what I found.”

“I don’t want to look at it.  I really want it, and I can’t have it.”

She insisted that I look at what she was trying to show me.  For nine years old, she was a persistent one.

“Is this the car?” she asked.  I half looked at the computer screen.

“Yes. But, that is the wrong price.  That is what I wanted to pay.  They quoted me a higher amount.”  I stepped in closer to examine it further.

“I am calling them!”

I hadn’t been home for more than two hours and already I was back in the thick of it getting my hopes up.

“How may I direct your call?” a lady answered.

“I was in today looking at a 2005 Pontiac Vibe.  The price was too high, but online it is lower and it is what I am willing to pay.  Could you find out the actual price?”

I was put on hold while she spoke with the person who listed the vehicles online.

“The price you are seeing online is the correct one.  The person in charge of the online pricing said he just changed it.   He had no idea you were even in here looking at it today.”

“I think I am coming back right now,” I said.

I called my dad and drove back to the dealership.

This time, I signed the paperwork and left with the car I KNEW I was supposed to have.

When God wants you to have something, a way will be made. If you are willing to let an unseen hand guide you and you can give up your reasons why it is impossible, then the struggle to obtain what you desire doesn’t have to be difficult.  This is usually not accompanied by a giant billboard or a flashing neon sign telling me what to do. It is often more subtle than that and comes from a inner knowing that can only be described as a good vibe.




Free For All

I carefully placed my coupons on top of my purse as I pushed my cart through the store. My list seemed longer than normal.  The uneasy feelings were always the same.  I would begin to feel scared in the parking lot and by the time I made it to the cashier with my groceries, my anxiety about spending too much of the family budget would be at an all time high.   It was a torture session I endured every week.  It wasn’t that the money was not there.  It was my false belief that I was living in scarcity.

On this particular day, I found myself getting angry about the fact that I was going through this again. I wanted to rid myself of it.  As I grabbed cans of generic items, I began to count my blessings.  I had a house.  I had a bed.  I never was short on food.  My bills were all paid. And just to prove to myself that my thinking was out of line, I decided to start placing things in my cart that were not on my list with the full intention of giving it all away to the local food shelf.

I began to feel my mood shift as I joyfully went along picking and choosing products with the sole intention of blessing others.  My trip had now taken on a new meaning that took the attention off of my worries and replaced them with the idea of helping someone else.

While I stood in the checkout line, I noticed the couple in front of me.  They had a rather large order for themselves and were struggling to keep two small children occupied.  The husband stood at the end of the belt slowly bagging up their purchases as his wife handed over food stamps.

“Some of these items are not eligible,” the cashier said to the woman.

“Oh.  Which ones?”

I found myself tuning it out and started glancing at the magazine covers around me.  When it was my turn to move up, I saw that the situation must have been resolved.

She began sliding my items over the sensor and sending them down the belt next to the family ahead of me.  They were still in the midst of getting their groceries into the cart.  I was trying to stay calm, and often at this stage, I would ‘zone’ out to block out the ‘beep’ ‘beep’ ‘beep’ of the racking up of a bill.

“Excuse me,” I said to the couple as I wheeled my cart by them.  For a few moments, I was able to put items into bags until the cashier said,

“I have your total.”

I left my cart unattended to pay. Once I was done, the family of four had departed so I had more room to finish up my task.

When I arrived home, I began unloading my purchases onto the kitchen table.  I realized I had not segregated out my donations.  As I looked through what I had spread out on the table and the counter, I could not locate what I was looking for.

I walked back out to my car to see if anything had been accidentally left in the trunk.  I found that I had removed everything.   I took a closer look and discovered that not only had my food shelf items gone missing but a couple other things were not to be found as well.  An inexpensive package of toothpaste and a much needed bottle of cheap toilet bowl cleaner were among the missing.

As I stood puzzled wondering what had happened, the family of four flashed through my mind.  I had left my groceries next to their belt with just enough time for either adult to take what he or she might need to steal.

Grabbing my receipt and car keys I went back to the store to replace the stolen merchandise that I needed.

By the time I returned, the store was nearly empty but the same cashier was working the same lane.

“I think the people ahead of me took some items that didn’t belong to them.”

“They did?”

“Were they paying with food stamps?”

“Yes,” she said recalling the moment.

“Did they have trouble paying?”


“I have items missing.”

“Did they do the five finger discount?”

“Well, I think they decided to take what was mine and made it theirs.  The funny thing is that they took most of the items I was going to give away to the food shelf.”

There was an absolute moment of silence until she and I started laughing.

“So, they stole food shelf items before I could donate them.  They just saved me a trip.”   This brought us to another round of laughter that made our eyes well up with tears.

I do not condone thievery, and I wish to this day that I would have paid attention to what was going on around me.  Yet, at the same time, I thought how pitiful it was that someone had to nab and grab to just get by in life.  And, somehow, I had mentally brought myself to the level of thinking that I was living in poverty.  Far from it.  I discovered that I was in a class much different than what I was envisioning over my life.

In times when I have feared the worst or imagined some catastrophe coming upon me, I often hear that still small voice whisper to me.  And, if I slow down, breath, and listen, I am drawn in by a peace that is free for all.