Saturday, December 29, 2012

On Bad Luck

Today was one of those days where before lunch time even came, I wished I could change back into my pajamas, jump back into bed, go to sleep, and magically wake up in time to start today over.

Today was the last day of my Christmas vacation. I spent the past week at my parents' home visiting my family. That's fun, but after a while, I start to miss my normal routine and my bed. When I woke up this morning, I was ready to pack my car and make the one-and-a-half hour drive back home.

I have to listen to music while I do my getting-ready-for-the-day routine. I recently realized that if I put my iPod in a mug on the counter in the bathroom, the mug acts as a speaker and it keeps my iPod from getting wet. At my apartment, I pretty much always just leave the mug in the bathroom and when I'm getting ready, my phone and iPod are in the mug. Well, when I went home this week, I saw no need to stop this habit, so I borrowed a mug from my mom's kitchen and just left it in the bathroom. This morning, I went into the bathroom, plopped my phone and iPod in the mug, turned on my straightener, and went to eat breakfast. I came back about fifteen minutes later to find that someone had previously put water in the mug and there was about an inch and a half of water that my phone and iPod were just soaking in. No way. I took my phone apart and dried it as best I could. You can't really take apart an iPod, though. I put both in a bag of rice and hoped for the best.

I have a very special car. It was a gift from my favorite uncle who passed away last year. It's an older car, so it has it's problems, but it gets me where I need to go. Unfortunately, it leaks oil really bad. So far, I've just been having a mechanic top it off every few weeks. But I recently decided I could learn to do it myself. This morning, in preparation to drive home, I put more oil in my engine. I was pretty proud of myself for doing it all by myself.

My mom offered to pay to put gas in my car before I left, so we headed to the gas station. When we got back, my little sister came up to me with the lid to the oil tank in my engine. "You forgot to put this back on." Oh no. I ran back to my car and opened the hood to find oil everywhere--all over the engine and all over the underside of the hood. The oil tank was empty. Luckily, I had more oil, so I just put it in, but I was so shaken up and flustered that I put in too much. I went inside and got my mom and told her what happened. Then, I just cried. It seemed I couldn't get anything right.

Mom called a mechanic that was a few blocks away and asked what to do. He said just to bring the car over and he'd fix it for free. He took out the extra oil and washed out my engine. I just cried.

I made it back home just fine. I was bored out of my mind driving with no music. My phone is working just fine, as far as I can tell, but the iPod is finished.

I've decided to look at these unfortunate events as learning opportunities. In the future, I'll know not to forget to put the lid on the oil tank. And I'll be more careful with my electronic devices. But here's the thing about making mistakes: Just because we make mistakes doesn't mean we can't get anything right. I've had to remind myself a lot lately that I'm human, and because I'm human, I'm not perfect and I'm not going to become perfect in this life. That doesn't mean I have low expectations for myself; it just means I'm flexible with my goals and aspirations. Some days I fall short, and that's perfectly normal.

I had thought while driving today. Remember that part when I told my mom about the car and then I started crying? Well, this is nothing against my mother, but her response was "Don't cry." I know what she meant by that was "Everything is going to be ok. It will work out." But I think in our culture we often look down on crying. I disagree. Crying is freeing. It helps the body to let out all that emotion that builds up inside. After a good cry, I always feel a little better.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

On Hold

Whilst driving on the freeway a few months ago, a rock flew up and hit my windshield and I ended up with a small rock chip. Bummer. I filed it away under my mental list of things to get done. Every once in a while, I'd notice the rock chip and refile it on that mental list. Here's the thing about mental lists: they usually don't get done. It's kind of like writing a grocery list in your mind, going to the store, and expecting to remember everything you need. It doesn't really happen. You're bound to come home and realize you forgot something important.

Fast forward to last week. I was getting a top off on my engine fluids before making a long drive. One employee came out of the office area and was talking to the other employees. I could tell by the way he wasn't working that he must be some sort of manager. He came over to my window and starting talking with me--small talk mostly, but he was nice enough that it was ok. He told the guys on the crew to clean my windows and check my tires, which they usually don't do when I just need a top off. The crew had finished with my car and the manager asked if there was anything else I needed. I smiled and said no, but then he asked if I had any rock chips. My mind opened that file and found that mental list. Yes! I do have this little one right here!

I asked the manager how much it would cost to get it fixed. I can only assume that paying to fix a rock chip is cheaper than paying for a big crack in my windshield. But money is tight, and I didn't really have funds to pay for it. The manager noticed my concern and assured me that my insurance would probably pay for it. Then, he said if my insurance wouldn't cover the repair, he'd just do it for free anyway! Nothing is cheaper than free, so I finally got my rock chip repaired. We filled out some paperwork with insurance information and I was on my way.

A few days ago, I got a phone call from the company that did the rock chip repair on my windshield. The representative on the phone asked if we could get my insurance company in on a three-way call so we could file the claim, or whatever insurance jargon you use to explain that... A few minutes later, we were talking with a fellow from the insurance company. He asked questions, and the representative gave most of the answers. As he was looking up my information in the database, he was having trouble finding what he was looking for, so he asked if he could put me and the representative on hold for a few minutes. No problem. Cue annoying elevator music.

I was just sitting and waiting when the representative from the rock chip repair company started talking. The first thing she said was, "Would you mind sitting here for a minute? I have to pee really bad!" I was pretty confused. I mean, that's terminology you use with your sister or roommate, not with a client over the phone! But I said ok, sure. That's fine. But then, she continued talking! It was at this point that I realized that not only was she not talking to me, but she clearly was unaware that I could hear everything she was saying.

"I've had to go for the longest time, but the door was closed and the light was off. When I knocked, they just said 'Go away.' I really have to pee! I think I'm gonna explode!"

I didn't really know what to say, so I just waited. Soon, she came back and said she didn't know how long the fellow from the insurance company would take and asked if she could just call me back if there was some other information they needed from me. I think what she really meant is "I need a bathroom break and this insurance guy is taking forever. Can I call you back?" But she doesn't know I know that.

You know, one of the first things she said to me was that the call would be "monitored for quality assurance." For her sake, I kind of hope no one ever hears that.

Monday, April 30, 2012

On Worth

The limbless man. A man who God has turned his back upon. A man who endures the laughing and pointing of others who simply don't understand. He's been told so many times that he has no worth, and now he's come to believe it. The limbless man.

Then, there comes another man: the circus master. The circus master sees others' worth with different eyes. He teaches the limbless man of his worth, and the limbless man comes to see what a special person he truly is.

You see, it is so easy for to look at other people and covet their talents, abilities, looks, and even possessions. We see our own selves as insignificant. But the Master, our Heavenly Father, sees more, and He wants us to see what He sees--the beauty that can come from ashes.

"But they're different from me."

"Yes, you do have an advantage. The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph."

Monday, March 12, 2012

On Machines

"Right after my father died, I'd come up here a lot. I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too."

The battle is, in a way, all about finding the reason you are fighting it. You're here for a reason. Keep fighting.