Monday, September 30, 2013

The Dark Before the Dawn

Saturday morning I watched the blue sky turn grey then black with ugly storm clouds. By midday the rain started pouring down.

In Oklahoma, it doesn't rain often, but when it does rain, it rains! It pours down like someone standing above my head with a hose.

As the rain was pouring down, the wind began to pick up. Shortly after that, the lightning and thunder started.

It was an all out, big, nasty storm.

The storm lasted all day. It seemed to get worse and worse. The power went off for about 10 seconds. If that was not surprising enough, it went off right as there was a lightning strike, startling me into thinking lightning must have struck the building.

The storm was brutal. Trees swayed in the strong wind, the rain poured so hard that I could barely see beyond 20 feet outside my window, and lightning and thunder roared for hours.

I fell asleep late that night, still hearing wind, rain, and loud thunder.

I was really expecting to wake up to more ugly clouds and gloomy weather. But instead I woke with a big smile as the sky greeted me with absolute beauty.

I then remembered that, that's how Oklahoma weather tends to be. Storms are bad, really bad, but the weather that follows is phenomenal. I am still used to Oregon weather where all I'd see for days, or even weeks, was cold rain and clouds.

When I fell asleep to terrible, and woke to beautiful, I was filled with awe, and reminded of how there is always good just around the corner of every trial.

Sunday morning I began to think about how everyday is truly a new beginning. While Saturday was dark and stormy, the next day the storm was out of sight, and the area was even more beautiful than before.

It reminded me of some of the hardest times in my life, and how even though some very ugly, very stormy events occurred, once it was all over, I could see God's beautiful saving grace through the hard times.

When I became a Christian, I was deep into some terrible addictions and actions. But when I cried out for God to save me, he did not leave me in that dark despair. Instead, he answered my cries, forgot my past, and gave me a bright tomorrow.

Monday, September 16, 2013

30 Days 30 Random Facts About Me

Day 10: Purse finder extraordinaire
One funny fact about me, is that if your purse or credit card goes missing, there's a chance I may be the one to find it. I am always finding missing things; dogs, cats, keys, credit cards, but most of all, purses.

It started about 6 years ago. I was headed to a weekend event in rural Washington. It was a warm summer day, and I was driving down a windy country road alongside a river. I glanced to my right and saw a purse on the side of the road. I hit my brakes, and then reversed. I thought, "Oh no, some one out enjoying the river forgot their purse."

I got out of my truck, planning to look in the purse for contact info, to return it to its' owner. But I was very surprised when I picked it up off the street, and it was completely empty. It was a nice black leather Mary Kay purse. I searched every corner and pocket, there wasn't even a crumb or speck of lint. It looked brand new and totally spotless.

I shrugged and took it to my truck and thought, "Guess it's mine now." 6 years later, I still have it.

Another time I was picking up a friend to take to church. She lived way, way far out in the country. Again, by a river. I picked her up and we were about a mile away from her home when I noticed a bright yellow sticking out from some bushes.

I stared at it as I passed, wondering what it was, when  I realized, it was a purse. I got out and pulled it out of the bushes. This time, it was packed with valuables; credit cards, social security card, student id, and driver's license.
 I called the contact info and got the girl's mom. She told me her daughter and friend had been at the river swimming, when someone broke into their car and stole their purses. The mom was very worried her daughter's identity would be stolen, but she was so excited when we discussed the items, and the only thing missing was cash and an iPod.

I met the girl at the church later that day. She even gave me $50 as a thank you.

The most recent find was this summer. I was out exercising with a friend, when I spotted something on the ground. I turned back around and looked closer to find it was a credit card.

I picked it up and finished my route. When we got back to campus, I tried calling the customer service line to report I had found it. But the automated calling center did not have an option for that, and it would not let me talk to a representative without entering the card's social security number.

I got on facebook and tried to look the person up. There was no profile for them, but I did notice some interesting facebook pages dedicated to a judge with that name, that were made to show hate for the judge.
I looked the name up on Google, and found out the card belonged to an Oklahoma state judge.

I ended up taking the card to the police station, because I could not figure out a safer way of getting it to its owner.

One of the most hilarious experiences though, was when I found a purse in the CCC parking lot. It had a cell phone in it, so I decided to recall the last number dialed.
A man answered in a sexy tone, "Are you ready to change your mind, my luscious lesbian lover?"

My faced burned red, and I struggled to speak, "Um, hi, I just found this phone."

The guy was so embarrassed that his voiced cracked like a 13 year old boy, "Oh!, oh God, I'm uh, I'm sorry."

I told him I was going to leave the purse at lost and found, and he said he would let his girlfriend know. He thanked me and ended the call with another, "I'm so sorry."

Friday, September 13, 2013

30 Days 30 Random Facts About Me

Day 8: My funniest joke, was one I didn't get.

When I was a kid, I had a line I always used to be funny. If I was feeling awkward, uncomfortable, bored, or goofy, I would use this one joke.
I didn't understand why, but every time I said it to an adult, they would laugh. It worked like a charm, every time. And so I took advantage of it.

It didn't start out as a joke though. It started out with me being very deeply offended, and trying to talk about it with an adult. When ever I tried to complain, people would just start laughing.

When I would ask what was so funny, people would either just pat my head, or just laugh without saying anything. Now and then I would get someone to speak, but they wouldn't answer my question, they would just say, "You're so funny."

It all started when I watched tv. I suddenly heard the familiar tune of a song I sang in church. I went to sing along, and discovered the lyrics were different. My jaw dropped right then. I was appalled. They changed the words to a worship song.

That's where it started. I spoke to my children's church pastor the next Sunday, and tried to vent to her about how horrible it was that a non-Christian had changed the song to make it secular. I was thrown off when the pastor started laughing and walked away.

It happened again and again. Every adult I tried to vent to, would laugh. No one would tell me why it was funny. I got angry at the first few responses, but then decided that I just had to go with it, and that's when I began intentionally using it to make people laugh.

I used it regularly for probably 2 years, before I got tired of it and eventually forgot about it.

It wasn't until years later, when I was 16, that I heard the song again, remembered my offense, and finally understood why everyone thought my rant was funny.

I still kinda wish someone had told me, that my favorite worship song, "Nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, hey, praise God" was not changed to please atheists, by making the lyrics "Nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, hey goodbye!"

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

30 Days 30 Random Facts About Me

Day 7: A smelly snack and a stinky situation.

Mom and me 17 years prior to me messing up her car.
I mentioned yesterday about a little of my struggle with having no sense of smell, and how it ratted me out for the tortillas I destroyed the microwave with.

I think that was a perfect transition into this story.

My parents had gone away for a week. In that time I and my  brother had borrowed my mom's car only maybe a total of three times. My mom was still a bit bitter over me spilling coffee a few weeks before, so she had said to only use the car for emergencies.

When she got back home, she was furious. "What is that awful smell in my car and which one of you made it smell like that!" My brother and I both shrugged, not having a clue what she was talking about.

The next day my parents went to church, and ended up using my step dad's truck because the smell was unbearable.

For the next several days my mom was so mad about how terrible her car smelled. All three smelling family members agreed is was a horrible smell, and none of us had a clue what caused it. We started to suspect maybe some little rodent had gotten in and died.

Then I came home from work one night, and as I walked in my mom, step dad, and brother all stood in the entry way, with their arms crossed, and giving me that, "You are so dead," glare.

I stuck my hands in the air and said with a tone of horror, "What did I do?"

My brother spoke first, "Facebook gave away your little secret."
My mom added, "I've been complaining for days when and all along you knew it was you."
I repeated with even more sheer terror, "What did I do?"

As it turns out, I had borrowed my mom's car for an important  meeting. Afterwards I forgot that I had stopped at the store. While at the store I bought a snack on a whim.  I had always heard it tasted disgusting, but had only tried them for the first time a few weeks before at a party, and I thought they were tasty. So I bought some more at the store that day.

I had no clue that they did not smell as yummy as they tasted. They were packaged in water. Or at least that's what I thought. Odorless, tasteless, harmless, water. I had bought a few other unusual snacks that I had never tried before and when I got home I mentioned the snacks on facebook.

On the drive home, I thought of how much I liked the snack at the party, so I succumbed to my desires, and opened it up and ate a few in the car. I spilled a bit of the water, but it didn't register to me as important, since it was just harmless water. It was so unimportant in my mind, that when my family confronted me on it, I couldn't even remember which car I had driven when eating the snack.

It turns out, I had no idea how bad 4 day old sardine juice smells in a confined, hot car.

To this day, three years later, my mom says it still smells like rotten fish in her car.

Needless to say, I've been banned for life from eating or drinking in my mom's vehicles. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

30 Days 30 Random Facts About Me

Day 6: I killed the microwave with a tortilla (and nearly took the house down too).

Ok, so maybe I am finding out about myself from all this writing, that I am an idiot. If I hadn't proven it already, this story will do it.

I was home alone, and in the mood to eat something Mexican. I don't know why, but our tortillas were in the freezer. They all froze together, so I couldn't just pull one out.

I don't have an actual picture, but this gives a good illustration.
I figured the most reasonable thing to do was to put the frozen chunk in the microwave in order to thaw it out.

Harmless, right? But I didn't think ahead as to what would be a good amount of time to leave it in. I set it for 10 minutes, and went to the other side of the house.

It didn't help at all that I do not have a sense of smell.

I came running to the kitchen 8 minutes later, because I heard the smoke alarm going off. The entire kitchen was filled with black smoke.

I gagged on the smoke and opened a nearby door as all the smoke alarms in the house started going off one by one.

At first I was confused as to what was causing the smoke, but the smoke started to pour out the open door and the air began to clear, I realized the microwave was still on, and the smoke was pouring out of it.

I reached out and tried to open the door, but it was so hot it hurt to touch. I had to go behind and unplug it from the wall. The cord was hot too.

I was so scared that I forgot to even scream. But after what felt like forever, the smoke stopped pouring out the microwave. I walked around the house and opened all the doors and windows. The smoke had made it into every single room in the house.

Once all the smoke had cleared, and my adrenaline had calmed, I went to inspect the microwave. The once white microwave, was now completely black on the inside.

I got Clorox wipes and started trying to wipe off all the charred blackness. A few hours later, it was a dark brown inside, but the mess was a cleaned up as possible. I swept, mopped, and wiped everything in the area trying to clean up. The air was flowing through the house with all the doors and windows still open.

I thought I was finally over the whole ordeal, and began to shut the windows and doors.

Just when I finished, my mom and brother came home. Mom came in first. She ran in. "What's burning!" She exclaimed, as she hurried around the house trying to find the source.

My brother came next, and covered his nose and announced, "Oh, oh God! It reeks in here! What happened? Is something on fire?"

I had tried to clean the house as well as possible, and crossed my fingers that no one would ever have to know about what happened, but I had not accounted for smell telling the story.

The microwave had to be thrown out, and the house smelled like smoke for weeks.

What I learned from all of this.........frozen tortillas do not take 10 minutes in the microwave!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

30 Days 30 Random Facts About Me

Day 4: I crashed my truck... Because I was praying.
 I was 19 when I had my first and (knock on wood) only crash.
It all happened so fast. It took me several weeks to remember all of what happened, because at first all I could remember was driving down the road, and then shouting "Oh no, oh no, oh no, aaah!" then slamming into a hill.

But now I remember all the details, and it's quite funny.

It was a Wednesday, on April 22, 2010 and I got out of class early, so I decided to do my absolute favorite hobby; I went on a joy ride in my truck. I went through my home town of Molalla, and followed a long country road, Sawtell. I had a point on the road where I normally turned around, because the road turned to dirt.
On this day I decided to keep going to see where the road led to. I followed it for quite a while before I notice I only had a quarter tank of gas left. I thought about turning around, but then I pulled out my gps (the one that had a death wish towards me). It said if I followed the road for 7 more miles, I would reach a gas station. So I decided to keep going.

It was April, it was warm, so I was very surprised when I started seeing snow on the sides of the road. Something told me this was a bad sign and I should turn around. I stopped, and grabbed some snow to laugh that I was in snow on a warm day. Then I ignored my instinct and kept driving.

The snow started covering the ground, but I figured with the gas now just 5 miles away, I must be nearing the end of the snow. Then in an instant, the truck hit a huge pile of snow. I was stuck.

I tried to reverse and the wheels just spun in the snow. I tried going forward, same thing. I got out and tried pushing the truck backward, and I slipped and fell on the ground. I got back in my truck, stared at the gas gauge and said out loud, "Oh crap."

It had been at least 10 miles since I had seen the last house, it was getting late, and I knew the sun would set soon. I had no cell service and I was afraid, "What if I walk to a house and a psycho answers and holds me captive? What if an animal attacks me along the way? What if something happens to me, and my family will never know where I went?"

I felt I was in big, big trouble. Just then I thought that I needed to pray. So I did. I asked God to move the truck so that I could get back down the road. I remember being able to feel the nerves all over my body, cause I was that nervous. But just as I prayed, the truck literally scooted back a foot on its own and I was able to get out of the snow.

My adrenaline was still rushing and I was in a hurry, because all I wanted was to be in the safety of my home. When I finally got back to an area of the road I recognized, I let out a big sigh of relief.

I looked up at the sky and said, "Thank you Jesus!"

When I looked back at the road, I discovered I was just about to reach a sharp turn. I slammed on my brakes, but wasn't slowing down fast enough. In my panic, my tires went off the road into gravel, and the truck spun in a circle.

I saw a field in the distance, and a massive cliff right in front of me, and I was screaming at the top of my lungs, because I thought I was about to go off the cliff. But as my truck spun out of control, it swerved to the other side of the road, and I slammed into the side of the hill.

I was dizzy and confused at first. Then I thought I needed to call someone. I couldn't find my phone. I had it in my cup holder and while I was out of control, it had flown across the truck and hid itself somewhere.
Where my step dad hammered the front

Just then a truck carrying a bunch of young men came up the hill, and drove right past me, all pointing and laughing at me as they went. This is when I broke out in crying.
A few minutes later, a man and his granddaughter came and stopped to help me.
It all ended well. The front fender and grill were knocked off, and part of the front was smashed in, but my step dad hammered the front back out, and duct tapped the fender and grill back on, and I was driving the truck again 2 weeks later.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

30 Days 30 Random Facts About Me

Day 3: Got an A in PE because running is against my religion

Sarcasm is a major part of who I am. I tell people, English is not my native language, sarcasm is. My sarcastic and playful personality is what introduced me to some of my best friends, but my sarcasm has also gotten me in some of my deepest trouble.

My usual pissed off self
There was, though, one time my sarcastic remark had an epically awesome outcome. 

In 8th grade I had a bad life, a bad attitude, and bad grades. My progress reports and report cards were all C's and D's. That was the norm for my grades starting in 6th grade and lasting to the end of 8th grade. But if you were to ever look at my 8th grade report card, there is one surprising mark on it.

PE, the subject I have never liked, had an A. Most would figure this is because physical education is an easy A. Normally this would be true, but for me it was a little different.

This year I had a teacher who had a reputation for being gullible, and very clumsy. If I had known she would fall for it, I would have done it sooner, but the real story, I was very honestly just trying to be funny while in an especially sarcastic mood.

The teacher told us to run 5 laps around the gym. I raised my hand and approached her with a look of deep concern and said, "I can't do that. Running is against my religion. In fact, it's one of the worst sins there are!" 

I smirked figuring she was just about to yell at me to knock it off and get back in line to run. But to my surprise, she gasped and covered her mouth, "I'm sorry, I didn't know! Is jogging ok?"

I was impressed, I thought she was responding to me with the same tone of sarcasm. I was not used to adults going along with my jokes. I answered, "In my religion, we believe that running makes you miss all the beauty and even warnings of what's to come. The slower you walk the better. It's frowned upon to do anything in a rush, but it's sinful to go too fast."

She then told me that I could walk as slow as I needed to. So while the rest of the class ran around me, I strolled along with a smile of victory, even if it was only going to last one day.

To my surprise, when we had class again, the teacher had the class run again, and reminded me that I could walk. This lasted the entire semester.

I was uneasy about it. I didn't know if she was still just being sarcastic, and was going to fail me because I wasn't running. But I tried to tell myself that it wouldn't matter if she gave me a bad grade, because it would match all my other classes.

The end of the semester, I read through my report card. "C, C, C, D, D, D, A??!" I couldn't believe I had an A. it was the first I'd had since 3rd grade. That was the glorious moment of truth, when I realized she really wasn't being sarcastic, and was fine with me walking and doing everything slowly, because she didn't want me to sin in my religion. 

Needless to say, the next semester, I milked it out for all it was worth, and was as lazy as humanly possible, and blamed it all on my religion. That next semester ended with an A as well.
8th grade graduation, 2 months before I became a Christian, and the first time in years that I tried to look nice.

Friday, September 6, 2013

30 Days 30 Random Facts About Me

Day 2: I've been banned by the Red Cross.

In high school I greatly looked forward to turning 18 and being able to donate blood. It was an exciting concept to me, my blood running through some one else's veins to keep them alive.

I was very pleased when I discovered my community college was a big advocate of blood drives. They had one every time the time limit to donate again was up.

It was at CCC that I donated for the first time. Everything seemed to go well, but at the end the nurse mentioned, "It was a little rough getting it to stop bleeding. No worries though, you'll just have some bruises from it."

By "bruises" I imagined I might get a little purple around the area the needle went in. Instead by the next evening , I was black and blue all over my arm, from shoulder to wrist. It was kinda scary, but mostly very, very.....very embarrassing.

When I went to the store later that week, the store clerk slipped a battered women's hotline card in my cash back. People everywhere stopped to gawk and ask, "Woah, what happened?"

My heart beat got off rhythm too. It would be beating normal, and then seemed to skip two beats, and then beat super fast until it calmed to a normal rate again. It felt like I had gas in my chest when it happened.

Time went by, and I shrugged it off as just a freak thing that happened. By the next blood drive, I was excited to sign up again.

Things seemed to go a little better the 2nd time. They did fine finding a vein, and removing the needle from the vein. It all seemed very well, until I went to leave. Yep, I fainted.

One moment I was smiling and proudly walking away, the next moment I was lying on the floor with 10 people surrounding me all asking if I was ok. I insisted I was fine and just a little dizzy, as I tried to pull myself up to stand again. I was halfway up, when I found myself waking up on the floor again. They made me stay there laying in the chair for 2 hours.

It scared me enough that I waited a year before working up the nerve to try donating again. Third time's a charm ya know!
This time, they had trouble finding a vein, but got it in and the blood started flowing, and flowing, and flowing and flowing. The nurse called a supervisor, and it kept flowing. I didn't really pick up that anything was wrong, until the supervisor said, "I think we need to call a paramedic."

They couldn't get me to stop bleeding!

They told me to stay calm, when I was actually more calm then they were. Just when the supervisor said she was going to get help, the nurse exclaimed, "It's stopped!"

Again I had to lay there for an hour and a half. Then three weeks later, I got this lovely letter in the mail.

The letter went on to say that due to complications, the Red Cross felt it was unsafe for me to participate in future blood drives.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

30 Days, 30 Random Facts About Me

As I return home from an evening jog, an idea popped in my head, that I thought would be fun to do. So for the next 30 days, each day I will share a random fact about me.

Day 1: I was once a military security breech.

Crazy huh? The swarmed my car with guns and everything. They laughed when I told them I was a new 17 year old driver, going out of state on my own for the first time, but they weren't laughing at first.
It all started when I was in possession of a gps I am to this day convinced had a death wish towards me.  It would tell me to turn right onto a railroad sometimes, but those sometimes always only happened when a train was approaching. Or it would tell me to turn left on a right only street.

I was headed home from Seattle, Washington. It was an 6 hour drive back to my home in Oregon. I had my driver's license for 6 months and it was my first time driving out of state, or anywhere long distance for that matter.

I needed to stop to use the restroom. I got off the interstate and went to a McDonald's. When I went to get back on the interstate, I took a wrong turn. I thought about turning around, but my gps recalculated and told me to keep going straight for 6 miles.
I listened and I followed the directions. It took a very long time and some bizarre turns, when I started seeing signs for Fort Lewis. I was wondering why I was getting closer to it, instead of closer to the interstate.

Quickly enough, I hit the entrance of the fort. That's when I saw the gps instructed me to drive through the base. I assumed, "Oh, it must be ok for civilians to drive through."

A man in uniform stood aside of the entrance, and waved his hand side to side. I thought he was gesturing for me to come in. Turns out he was gesturing no entrance, because the base was closed for the day for security training. The training was on intrusions.

I put my foot on the gas, and went forward faster than I would recommend. He waved his hands in the air and shouted, "Stop! Stop!" and he smacked his hand fast on the back of my truck.

I slammed on the brakes, and instantaneously there were military men with guns surrounding me.
He ordered very sternly for me to step out of the truck with my hands in the air. I did, then he asked why I was not in uniform.
I stumbled over my words, with my hands still in the air, and tried the best I could to explain I was following my gps, I was not in the military, and I had just taken a wrong turn.
He asked for my ID. Then saw I was only 17. That's when he asked me if I was really not part of the drill.
"No sir!" I answered while trying my best not to cry.

He replied, "Well, you could not have picked a worse day to make this wrong turn. Did you read the signs? The fort is closed for the day young lady! And we thought you were the scheduled security breech with a car packed with explosives."

"No sir, I am not an actor, and I don't have any explosives. I'm sorry sir, I've never driven out of state on my own before!"

The cool part of the trip was getting to see my grandpa and family.
I also got a free hug that trip