Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Post of Thanksgiving

It's 6:36am, Thanksgiving morning. I've been sick since Sunday and have wanted so desperately to sleep in all week, yet here I am wide awake and writing on a sleeping-in holiday. It's so rare that the inspiration to write hits me anymore I figured I should really take advantage of it. Because I'm all responsible like that. Yo.

I'm on my second bout of a wicked cold. With the first round about six weeks ago I had a cough, but the main complaint was the body aches and head congestion. This particular bout started in my chest and within 24 hours of the first tickle in my throat I was wheezing and crackling. Now it's migrated to my head, but I haven't run a fever. And the only body aches I have are the ones in my abdominal muscles (which I wasn't even aware I had anymore) from coughing so much.

Yesterday I had a Well Woman Visit scheduled at the Indian Clinic and considered canceling it because I was scared to death I'd get laid down on that table and have a coughing fit and things would go flying, if you know what I mean. And don't pretend like you don't. If you are a woman you know exactly of that which I speak. Yeah, thought so. But I forged on simply because I dread this visit like I dread ..... well, for the life of me I can't think of anything I dread as much as a pelvic exam. I figured I might as well get it over with while I was already miserable and halfway prepared for it.

I had dropped the kids off at Mom's office before my appointment and as I was headed back to pick them up afterwards, my phone rang. It's one of my girlfriends who I love dearly so I answered it with a smile on my face because, seriously, I love this woman to pieces. She said her husband had been trying to get hold of me and I needed to call him. Frankly, it puzzled me because, while I think her husband is the bomb diggity, I have never had occasion to call him up and chat on the phone. I asked her if everything was okay and she assured me it was.

Now, let me take a moment to digress, if you will. We here at the Redneck Diva household are not a rich family and even though on paper it looks like we're poor, we are indeed extremely blessed. We don't have a lot of money, but we get by. The bills get paid (when I don't just flat forget to pay them) and the kids are clothed. There's always an excess of food in the pantry and fridge and none of us are shoe-less. Yes, I had to cancel a hair appointment awhile back because there just wasn't any leeway in the budget for gray-hair-camouflaging procedures, but in the grand scheme of things I'm fairly certain I'll survive. I really don't like the grays that have taken over my head, but other than my vanity being a smidge dented, it's all good.

Every year we bale the hay on our property and sell it. We don't make a huge profit off of it, but the money we make is our Christmas money. This year, the hay hasn't sold. The guy who usually buys from us backed out. We found two other buyers. They backed out. Now, a year ago this would have had me running around pulling my hair out, crying, snotting and fretting, but this year, while I've been a little worried, I haven't gotten upset. By this time I normally have my shopping about half done - this year I haven't bought so much as a candy cane. Yet my peace about Christmas has been unfathomable. After the second set of buyers backed out I literally laid my concerns over money at Jesus' feet. I laid them there and left them. There is literally NO money for Christmas, but I have known down deep in my heart that it's going to be okay. God will provide. It may not be the most extravagant Christmas we've ever had, but I have known it's going to be okay.

Then Saturday night, while driving 77 mph on the turnpike headed for Joplin, one of my van tires blew out. I was driving. I was in the inside lane when it blew and as soon as we realized what was happening, Paul said, "Get to the shoulder NOW!" Looking back, playing it all out in my head again, God had the blueprints laid out in a cosmic way. Traffic had been close the whole trip, not the usual spacing you find on the interstate. We had driving from one cluster of cars and trucks to another the whole way, but at that moment, when my tire blew I was the only vehicle for a half mile either way. (I've got goosebumps just thinking about it!) I got the van to the shoulder, looked at Paul and remembered to breathe. Realizing the tire that blew was on the highway side sent ice water shivers through me because my husband was going to change that tire. I got out of the van and followed him to the back and said, "We have roadside! Let's just call a tow truck! Let's call Dad, Mom, the President, SOMEBODY. Please don't change that tire. We have roadside!" From halfway under the van, trying to release the spare, my precious redneck husband looked up at me and calmly said, "Sweetheart, you are not helping right now. Please get in the van and shut up." I got in the van, looked back at my children whose eyes had suddenly grown to the size of dinner plates and said, "We need to pray." Three little hands found mine and I prayed for protection, prayed that the semis whizzing past us at 80 mph would see us and avoid us, prayed that Paul would be safe, prayed that we would be safe, prayed that the spare wasn't flat. People, I just prayed.

I am telling you, my husband changed that tire with the speed and agility most pit crew mechanics don't have. He showed me the tire later that night and said, "There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why you didn't lose control of that van tonight. The speed you were going and the way it blew, we should've lost control." I opened my mouth to tell him what I thought, but he finished with, "God was protecting us." Enough said.

On the way home from dinner the worry started creeping in. Where we were going to get the money for at least two new tires when we only had money for bills and didn't have money for Christmas? Paul was beside himself. I nearly was. Then again, that peace just flooded over me and I knew it was going to be okay. I wanted to worry, but it was like I couldn't. Friends, my sister, my daughter, were sharing scripture with me that just calmed me down in a way I can never describe and do it adequate justice.

So now back to yesterday. I hung up the phone with my friend and called her husband. He said, "Kristin, you have a set of tires out here at Walmart." I said, "Excuse me? I what?" There was a lot of stammering and stuttering as I tried to figure out what he was telling me. He explained that someone had bought a set of tires for my van and I just needed to make arrangements to come out and have them put on.

I couldn't talk because I was crying so hard. Bless his heart, it had to be awkward for him sitting there on the phone, listening to me blubber. I managed to choke out a thank you and hung up. I dialed Paul's work number and told him. He didn't believe me. By that time I was at Mom's office, so I hung up with Paul, marched in there and said, "Mom, I am asking you right now to be 100% honest with me. Please, if you love me, do not lie."

She said she was certain at that moment that I had gotten horrible news at the doctor and that her heart was resting somewhere around her toes when she answered, "Kristin, I will not lie to you." I think she was sincerely worried I was going to ask her to take care of the kids when I died or something. Between sobs I managed to ask the question, "Did you and Dad buy me a set of tires?" She assured me she did not. She called Dad. He did not. What followed was about 15 minutes of me sobbing uncontrollably in my mother's office.

I was floored. I was stunned. I was overwhelmed. I was so completely mystified. Who? Why? WHY?

I have personally gotten to participate in giving money to someone who desperately needed to buy groceries to feed her babies. I didn't give the money from my own wallet, but I was the go-between, the person asked to deliver. The relief, the complete release of worry, in her eyes is something I will never forget as long as I live. She was, in that moment, absolutely certain that her babies would have food and being a part of seeing her blessed that way was unfathomable.

I felt that feeling yesterday. In the exchange of a few words "You have a set of tires" my whole outlook changed. The worry I had been pushing back, the question of "How?" was instantly gone. For the next two hours just the mere thought of the incredible act I had just been a part of brought me to tears. I had to put my makeup back on twice.

Psalm 52:8 says, "But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly."

"I will thank you forever because you have done it" - this part stands out to me so very distinctly. He has done it. God has done it! God gave his Son for our sins. God gave us grace when we didn't deserve it. God gave us life everlasting if only we accept it. God gave someone out there the financial means to bless a family in need of tires this holiday.

When Paul got home from work last night he checked out my new wheels, the wheels my friend Natalie calls "Heavenly tires that will never go flat because they came down from Heaven and nothing from Heaven is flawed" and that is why I love my Natalie so. He squatted down and looked one over and when he stood up tears were in his eyes. "Why, Kristin?" Well, then of course, I started bawling again. He took my hand, led me into the house and said, "Now, look at this," and handed me a sheet of paper.

The casino he works for has partnered up with Sam's Club to give employees a shopping spree at the Joplin club where we can charge up to $700, interest free, and pay it out of his paychecks for the next six months.

Christmas is taken care of.

Mom hugged me last night and said, "Oh, baby girl, God just keeps smiling down on you today!"

Oh, yes. Yes, He does.

And whoever out there bought a set of tires for a very grateful redneck family yesterday, if you are reading this, thank you. There are no words to adequately describe the blessing you have given us. God used you, my anonymous friend. And I thank you for being open to it.


A happy, happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there reading this.
May God bless you in ways you never dreamed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's the Most Tacky-ful Time of the Year

I am a member of one of the tackiest families in Ottawa County.

And when I say that, it is totally a compliment. Ask any of them.

If you're a veteran reader you are aware of our wacky Festivus tradition. If you're new I'll explain.

Our family, which has never been traditionally normal or known for following traditional rules (probably because we are about as dysfunctional as you can get), decided four years ago to take Thanksgiving and Christmas and turn the gatherings into something a little

In November 2007 we had our first "Glenn Family Official Festivus Planning Meeting". The purpose, besides eating potluck until we were miserable, was to plan the upcoming Festivus celebration and future Festivuses to come. We gathered on the couch, recliners, ottomans, folding chairs and the floor and proceded to draw up a set of by-laws for ourselves and future generations to follow. The result was a ridiculous set of rules and official-sounding names, fines, penalties and various other silliness.

The gist of it is this: We gather as close to Christmas as possible (2009's Festivus was held in March of this year because of the Icepocalype and Snowmageddon) and exchange tacky gifts. The competing is done only by family members by birth, adoption, step- or marriage who have reached the age of 16. No girl/boyfriends, fiances or kids. The gift-giving preparation is done with much secrecy, husbands and wives sometimes keeping the secret of their gifts from each other. The blinds and curtains at the place Festivus is held (we Hoovers were voted in as the Official Host Family last year) (lucky us) must be drawn so that guests arriving can place their gifts in the "Official Gift-Holding Recepticle" in complete anonymity. If two guests arrive at the same time the latter-arriving party must avert their eyes while the former party places their gifts, lest they be considered a "cheater cheater pumpkin eater." Yes, the by-laws actually say "cheater cheater pumpkin eater". Gifts can be handmade or store-bought, however the total cost of the gift or materials to make the gift cannot exceed $8.18. If the gift is less than that amount the difference is to be brought in cash and placed in a fund that will someday be used to buy pencils for the great-grandchildren when they graduate high school.

There is a President, Secretary and Sergeant-at-Arms. The Sergeant-at-Arms is responsible for goosing family members who get out of line at any gathering. My cousin Keith wanted to add a new official office this year - the "Official Leg Humper". He was voted down. Thank God. My sister's new husband, poor fella, was elected President, I remain the Secretary for All of Perpetuity (because no one else wants the job) and because his leg humping dreams were dashed, Keith was voted in as the new "gooser".

The winner of the Tacky Gift Competition is voted upon by secret ballot and the winner gets to proudly display the Turkey Plaque in his or her main bathroom for one year. If the Turkey is not displayed and another family member discovers the infraction they can steal the plaque and the violator is fined $8.18. So far only one winner was caught without the plaque on his wall, but considering he was in the middle of a home renovation he was allowed to keep the Turkey. It was that year the fine was implemented.

There are oh so many more clauses, rules, sidenotes and facets to the hilarity, but those are the main points. This year we have added a Tacky Apparel Competition. Everyone competing in this competition must bring an item purchased in the checkout line at their local Walmart or grocery store. The winner, chosen by secret ballot, will receive the donated prizes. I can hardly wait to see how many tiny cans of Lysol, Monster energy drink and Bic lighters are part of the prize this year.

This year my cousin Ben and his girlfriend, Amy, flew in from New York to be a part of the Planning Meeting. It was decided that all attempts would made to Skype Ben in from NYC for the Tacky Apparel Competition this year. Considering they both dressed as bedbugs for Halloween this year, we may regret letting them compete from afar. They may kick our butts. Poor little Amy was incredibly quiet through the meeting, only getting excited when we told her it wasn't too late to get in on the action -- if only Ben would propose to her. We even offered to gather with them at LaVerne's, the local wedding parlor, but no such luck.

Oh and something new this year? For Festivus it is "encouraged but not required" that all food brought for the potluck be in the shape of balls. This could get very, very interesting.

When this year's meeting was adjourned everyone went to the front yard and participated in an acorn and hickory nut fight. Nearly to the death. It didn't take long for most of us to go straight back inside. The kids took Ben to the hay bales* where they began jumping and cavorting merrily, thus nearly giving me a heart attack. Any time I see them jumping around out there I can only envision broken legs. And necks. The merriment only increased when Amy, a true city gal, a working actress in NYC, climbed up on the hay bales. And she wasn't even wearing flannel. When they came in, pink-cheeked and covered in bits of hay, she just kept saying, "I jumped on hay bales in my Steve Maddens!"

When my friend, DeLisa, came by later to deliver my Avon I said, "And she jumped on the hay bales in her Steve Maddens!" De gave me a blank look and I breathed a sigh of relief as I said, "Oh good, you have no clue what that means either!" The only Madden I've ever heard of has something to do with football and a Playstation game. I think. I didn't see that sweet girl holding a Playstation game while she jumped. I think she was referring to her boots.

Paul has his Festivus gift already. Courtney says she's going to win this year. Sis, who was last year's winner, says she is not giving up the plaque willingly.

I am open to suggestions. If you have any ideas for gifts tacky and completely lacking in taste please email me. Keep in mind I have made angel tree ornaments out of tampons before, so you gotta really deliver, folks. If you come up with something amazing, though, and I will totally mail you a loaf of Amish bread. And possibly a Sonic gift card. And if you're lucky, a picture of me blowing you a kiss. I'd offer to name my next child after you, but 2011 is the Year of the Vasectomy for us, so you'll have to just accept the loaf of bread and be happy.

* The hay bales are for sale. Desperately for sale. If someone doesn't buy them soon, y'all will able to adopt my kids from an Angel Tree in a Walmart entrance and just buy them presents directly.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night and the damsel cried out in distress...

Okay, so it's really just a cloudy, gloomy, windy afternoon, but go with it. I'm sitting at my dining room table eating half a garlic bologna, cheese and mustard sandwich and drinking a sweet tea, brainstorming about an upcoming event. Yes, the damsel has garlic bologna breath.

Actually, the eating is going better than the brainstorming.

See, this weekend our church is hosting a ladies' conference and I am the emcee. I have been in prayer about it since I was asked by the pastor, but as of yet I haven't gotten this big lightning bolt and thunderclap epiphany about how to go about my business.

Brother Clint said, "Introduce the speakers and funny."


That's about as specific as well....nothing.

So here's where you come in, oh great and mighty Constant Reader. I need your opinions.

When you attend a conference where there are multiple speakers what preferred role does the emcee play for you? Do you want them to put on a red clown nose and play a ukelele, lightening the mood and breaking down anyone's reservations?
(I can't even begin to tell you how disturbing it was to me to do a
Google search for clowns. I will likely have nightmares over this.)

Do you want them to tell a few jokes, a cute story, maybe tie it all to the speaker they're getting ready to introduce? Or do you want them to be more of a Ben Stein fella who says, "Up next is Suzy Jones who will be speaking about missionaries in Guatemala. Hang on your seats, ladies. She has a slideshow."

(By the way, it bothers me immensely that Bueller is spelled wrong in that picture. Just so you know.)

Do you want someone to just get it over with, introduce and get the heck out of the way or truly be a segue between topics and speakers?

Am I putting wayyyyyy too much thought into this?

So make sure to leave a comment and let me know your honest opinon. Please. I beg.

And also, if you're local we would LOVE to see you at the conference on Saturday at Bar-None Cowboy Church. The conference goes from 3-6pm and dinner will be served at the end of the conference. There is no charge, but if you think you're going to come please let me know because we need a headcount for the dinner since it's catered. Our church is very casual and if you want to come in your bluejeans and OU sweatshirt then please feel free. If you want to come in your OSU or Texas sweatshirt ..... that's between you and God. :-)

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...