Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Supernatural Oil Change

This is a story to encourage anyone out there who needs a reminder that God really IS in control, He wants only the very best for you, AND He seldom does things the way we expect. 

Ready? Okay!! (If you didn't say that in your head like a cheerleader, please go back and re-read it properly.)

A couple of weeks ago, our family was preparing to travel to Southern California for a week's vacation.  The day before leaving, my plan was to run 2-3 errands then spend the rest of the day packing at a leisurely pace.

Before heading out, my husband told me that I should add the errand of "Oil Change" to my list. NOT what I had in mind, but I knew he was right. 

I asked him if we had any oil change coupons for a particular place. He found one so I headed over there. After dropping the car off, I walked across the parking lot to a bookstore, only to have the mechanic call me not 10 minutes later to advise that he couldn't perform the oil change after all. He said it was because the last place that had changed the oil, must have stripped the threads on the oil pan hole and replaced the original plug with a larger one. He said that he was afraid of stripping it even more, and since he didn't have a larger plug to replace the current one, he'd be forced to replace the whole oil pan if that happened.

No problem. How much could an oil pan be, right?

Try $400-$500!!!

I walked back over to the garage and drove away in my car with the unchanged oil.

I needed to know what to do next, so I parked and called my husband, but only AFTER letting God know how disappointed I was in Him for letting this happen to us the day before we were to leave town on vacation. Side Note: We already had a $600 car repair bill 2 months prior, which I felt should put us in the good-to-go-for-the-next-several-months category. WRONG.

Anyway, I believe the words I said aloud to God were, "Really, Lord? REALLY?! The DAY BEFORE VACATION, You're gonna' drop a $500 car repair bill in our laps?! REALLY?!?!?!?!??!?!?!"

Yeah. Not my best moment. It's amazing how God is the first to receive praise AND BLAME for anything that goes right or wrong in my life. Why He hasn't zapped me with a death-ray-laser-thing already is a miracle in and of itself.

So I call my husband, somewhat perturbed. He suggested going to the facility where I'd taken it last time, because they would obviously know what to do with the large plug that they put in.

I drove over there, and after a quick check, was told that in addition to having our oil changed, they could also replace our front right blinker bulb that wasn't working, for an additional $10.00.  I told them that would be great, since my husband had researched online how to replace the bulb months ago, and only found a series of complaints from people who said it was almost impossible to get TO the bulb to replace it. I was assured that THEY could do it - NO PROBLEM.

2 minutes later, I was sitting in the waiting room, watching 3 men in their late 20's gather around that right front blinker, completely baffled. They came in after about 20 minutes, all having very vocal opinions about how there was NO WAY to get to that bulb without completely removing the front bumper. 

I thanked them for trying, and waited for the gentleman at the register to process my payment. I'm guessing he was in his early 60's. I didn't catch his name, but I'm going to refer to him as "Gabe", which is short for Gabriel. Just go with it. 

After ringing me up, sans the $10 bulb fee, Gabe walked me out to my car to give me a run down on what had been done.

Gabe:  I don't like being told 'no'.

Me:  What do you mean?

Gabe:  The bulb. There's got to be a way to get to it. Do you have a few minutes?

Me:  Yeah.

Gabe:  Do me a favor and turn the wheels to the left ... okay, great. Go ahead back inside and I'll let you know when I'm done.

About 7 minutes later, Gabe came to get me.

Gabe:  Okay, you're ready to go.

Me:  And?

Gabe  held up a burned out bulb, with a big grin on his face.

Me:  NO. WAY.

Gabe:  I told you, I don't like being told 'no'.

Me:  How did you do it?!

He showed me how he got in behind the bumper. No big deal.

Me:  This is AWESOME. I need to pay for it.

Gabe:  Nah. No need.

Me:  Well I have to pay for it. Can I pay you?

Gabe: Really, you don't need to.

Me:  I want to do something. You have no idea what a big deal this is to me.

Gabe:  Well, I do like Mocha Frappuccinos.

Me:  Done. What size?

Gabe:  Grande?

Me:  Whipped cream?

Gabe:  Yep.

Me:  I'll be right back.

I hopped in my car and made a bee line for the nearest Starbucks where I ordered Gabe a Venti Mocha Frappuccino, because a Grande really didn't seem large enough for how grateful I was feeling. Needless to say, the other mechanics were dumbstruck when I walked in and handed Gabe his sweet reward.

As I drove away I started in on my long apology to God for accusing Him of not having our best interests at heart. See, not only did He want our oil changed, but He wanted us to have a working right blinker to use while driving in L.A. traffic!! OH!! AND the bulb didn't cost us a lick, because I had a Starbucks gift card to cover the cost of Gabe's Frappuccino!! What?! 

Oh yeah.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


I had big hopes for today. Probably too big for someone with offspring, but a girl can dream, right? Wrong.

My Hope: 

Attend a morning class at my church while my husband attended a friend's funeral, and my girls hung out at home watching cartoons and loving on each other. Then my husband would pick me up around 12:15, and drive me home where I would take a 2-3 hour nap. I planned nothing after the nap, because I thought that would just be greedy. 

My Reality: 

I attended the class during which I received 5 texts from my youngest about how BORED she was. After discreetly texting her back with a host of activities she could do, she replied that she'd just Face-Time one of her friends. OH.MY.WORD. Yes, I do realize that I have failed as a parent. Why would she want to READ a BOOK, for instance, when she could grab the latest i-Whatever and talk "face to face" with a friend who lives miles away about how BORED she is? But honestly, I was just glad to have her stop texting me so I could focus on what was being taught. For 15 minutes anyway. Yeah, that's when she called twice and left two voice messages which I refused to listen to until the class was OVER. 

The class ended and I listened to Meg's messages. She was crying pretty hard on the first one. Something about Amanda refusing to make her breakfast and ... what was it ... oh yeah, BREAKING HER ARM. The second message was a little less frantic, but still had her crying about her broken arm and lack of breakfast (not sure which of those 2 things were making her cry the most, btw.) I called her back to get the full scoop ...

Me: So tell me what happened to your arm.

Meg: I asked Amanda to make me something for breakfast, but she wouldn't do it so she broke my arm!

Me having never broken a bone before, but assuming a child wouldn't be able to talk as calmly as she was if it were truly fractured, I decided to pursue the breakfast portion of the story: I know you can toast a bagel, because you did that yesterday. And I know you can pour cereal and milk into a bowl, so why did you ask Amanda to make you breakfast?

Meg:  I CAN'T pour cereal OR milk with a BROKEN ARM.

Me: Can you move your arm?

Meg: Not very well.

Me: Put Amanda on the phone.

Meg 10 seconds later: She said 'No'.

Me: Tell her I need to talk to her.

Meg another 10 seconds later: She won't come.

Me: Tell her to come to the phone NOW, or she loses all electronics, including the TV.

I then ordered Amanda to pour cereal and milk into a bowl for her disabled sister. Pretty sure I heard her eyes roll back in her head.

Next I texted Henry to see if the funeral was over yet. It was almost over, but not quite, so I texted back that I would start walking home. I figured I could walk home faster than it would take to wait for him and then drive home, not to mention that in doing so I might save Megan from a 2nd injury. Henry replied that it was too hot outside, and that I should wait for him and just stop answering their texts and phone calls.

Well, I wasn't in the mood to wait around for another text that I would have to ignore, so I started my 1.34 mile trek home.

By the time I'd crossed the church parking lot, while wearing long jeans, a black polyester shirt, wedge-heeled sandals and no sunglasses, I realized Henry had a point about it being too hot. Yeah, it was 12:30 and 90 stinkin' degrees already. But I'd already gotten clear across the parking lot ... I couldn't turn back now.

Besides, I had World War 4 brewing at home, so I carried on ... all the while wondering if this whole parenting thing would ever get easier. I mean, you endure 12 years of being home bound with your precious children, and when they're finally old enough to stay home a few hours alone, all they want to do is kill each other. You'd think they'd embrace the opportunity to enjoy the freedom of raiding the pantry and watching TV with no parental party poopers around, but NO. They'd much rather kick their sibling's arm as retaliation for having been asked to put food on a plate.

By the time I reached our street, I was so hot and sweaty and irritated and again: HOT, that I almost walked passed my husband who had just arrived and was sitting in the car waiting to drive me the rest of the way home (5 houses.)

When at last I walked into the house, I was greeted by a happy Megan who had placed her "broken" arm in a sling, and explained that she tried putting ice on it for a while, but that was too cold so she took it off.

I couldn't even respond.  It's not that I wanted her arm to be broken, but in my mind, the least she could have done after ALL those texts and phone calls was to act somewhat injured, or dab a little catsup on her arm for fake blood, or spritz water on her eyes for tears. SOMETHING. Am I alone on this?

Anyway, I just walked passed her and right into THEE coldest shower I've EVER taken in my enTIRE life. This might have been a refreshing activity, except for the fact that I kept thinking about how much I dislike the whole "getting ready" process every morning. The process which I'd already done ONCE today, and would get to do AGAIN in about 7 minutes. 

Oh my goodness. The more I type, the more pathetic I sound. And yet ... I continue.

Maybe I should just recap, because once wasn't enough. 

* While I DID get to attend a class at church, it wasn't without several interruptions from my daughter. 

* While I COULD have waited for my husband to drive me home in an air-conditioned vehicle, I chose to WALK home in the HEAT and sweat my bloody head off.

*  Instead of a 3 hour nap, I got to take a freezing cold shower, redo my hair and make-up, watch Meg and her neighbor friend swim, and fold some laundry.

And yes, I DO realize how blessed I am. I really do. I have a fancy phone to receive all the whiny texts and calls from my children. I have an abled body that can walk me home if necessary. I have running water to stand under for a very long time, while some people don't even have enough water to drink. My children are healthy and quite privileged compared to many children in this world. I have a machine to wash clothes for me. And on and on it goes.

So yeah, I know I've got it good. It just helps me to vent about motherhood from time to time. Some might call it whining, or being ungrateful ... 

I call it therapy.

And this concludes our session for today. Thank you for your time.