Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chaos to Perfection: God is in Charge

So…. Friday night, Tyson had a choir concert at the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.  The next morning, both Tyson and Jackson had a jazz band concert at that same tree but for the parade celebration.  Also that day I would be doing balloon animals at a big corporate party.  I was told they were connected with Disney (Disney characters and their families).  They would be paying me VERY well.  I had done balloons at my son's school, and somebody saw me there and referred them to me saying that I would do a great job.  How grateful I was!!!

My day started with the parade.

I was awakened Saturday morning at 6:30am by my boys' band director saying that he realized he needed the boys to also bring their bell kit to play at the parade.

I read my scriptures and said my prayers, and then I woke up the children.

The Bell Stand

I gave the band director's message to Jackson and said, "Make sure you bring your bell stand with the bells."  He had his music stand slung on his shoulder and said he would.  I said, "That's great that you're bringing your music stand, but you also need to bring your bell stand."  Again Jackson said, "Ok."  About a half an hour later I said, "Jackson, do you have your bell stand?"  He said he did.  I asked him where it was.  He said it was in his backpack.   I looked at his backpack suspiciously and warily accepted his answer.

Time was quickly ticking by, and Jackson and Tyson had to leave for the parade to set up.  The little ones weren't quite ready yet.  Abe took the older boys, and I finished getting everybody else ready.   I was feeling quite anxious inside about doing this balloon party; I would be leaving right after my boys performed, and I didn't want anything to go wrong that would keep me from earning my full money's worth at this corporate event. I also wanted to have more opportunities to do a job like this in the area, so I wanted to fully impress them.

All my curly-headed kids lined up to get their hair brushed and conditioned while I ran through details in my head of how everything would pan out for the day.  Right then, Abe called and said that Jackson was casually chatting with him about the bell stand on their way to the parade.  He said, "I bet the band teacher has a bell stand."  Abe said, "Jackson!  You didn't bring your bell stand?  That's what your mother asked you about 5 times!"  (Apparently every time I said "bell stand" he was thinking "music stand.")  Tyson quickly chimed in and said, "I forgot my music too!"  The parade was 30 minutes away; they couldn't turn around.

Of course I got the phone call about the crucial items forgotten… DANGIT!!  I now had 5 minutes to get out the door instead of 30.  We all raced around like crazy people.  I wanted to look shiny and happy for the kids expecting a Christmasy, balloon lady… not a tired, haggard one!

We raced out the door as I hollered, "Grab some crackers!  Grab the bag!  Grab Jayden's shoes!  Out to the van!"

As we drove towards the parade, we approached a dollar store.  Jackson and Tyson had REALLY wanted to decorate their instruments, and all our Christmas decorations are in storage.  I decided I'd surprise them.  I would have time to race in to buy them little ribbons.  My plan was to drop off the items to Abe before I parked, so I was still ok on time.

The dollar store should have taken only 2 minutes, but I couldn't find the cashier.  I yelled out several times all throughout the store, "Hellllllooooo!!!!" Nobody else was there- she finally sauntered out of the back room and rang me up.  (I have no idea what she was doing so far away from the front of the store, but I smiled politely anyway trying to be civil.)

I jumped back into the car with all the little ones as I eyed my GPS.  I would still make it in time…I would drive right up to Abe to make the transfer.  …until I took a wrong turn and ended up at the block-aid to the parade!  There was no way to turn around now.  I had to park and make a run for it.  I could see the big Christmas tree about 5 blocks away.

Abe and I would be switching vehicles; and since I was parked so far away, I wouldn't be able to return to my van after the parade.  That meant I had to bring all my party gear, all the baby gear, my boys' bell stand (heavy and sturdy for a drum set), and 4 small children with me on my run to the Christmas tree.

Juliana only wanted to hold MY hand while we ran.  Jayden was on my back, and the other two were trailing behind me trying to carry heavy bags to help me out.  As we ran, Juliana stepped on my flip flop while I continued to rapidly run forward.  My flip flop ripped right out!  I tried to scoot my foot on top of my gimpy flip flop for about a half a block.  I finally gave up and ran barefoot through the streets.  We were a sight to behold.

We made it just in time!  I gave the boys their ribbons, music, and stands. I even helped them decorate their bell stand.  Seeing their sweet, innocent faces made me forgive them for their irresponsibility.  I did tell Jackson that I would be dying at the age of 80 instead of 90 now because of the added stress he gave me.

I sat for a moment and enjoyed their performance.  It truly was amazing!

Shoe Shopping & Driving

Before I left, I sat down with Abe to tell him where the van was.  I drew a map out for him with my finger on a piece of paper so he could visualize where he would be going.  He didn't seem to worry a bit.  I complained, "You're not even looking at my map!"  (He has NO problems with directions… I, on the other hand, am severely challenged in that area.)

Abe told me where his car was.  He told me to go straight down the street and the car would be on the right after the other block-aid.  (Just like Jackson had "music stand" in his head every time I said "bell stand,"when Abe said "straight down that street" I thought he meant "straight down the street where I had parked the night before at the choir concert.")

I raced off with one shoe on and one shoe off.  In my mind I wondered if I looked Chrismasy enough for the children I would be entertaining.  Then somebody shouted out from the street in a wowed voice, "Merry Christmas!"  "Great- I must have emitted the Christmas feel," I thought.  I waved, smiled, and kept running.  After I ran a couple of blocks- short on time might I add because I would have to buy new shoes on the way- I called Abe and said, "Did you say your car was on the right side?"  He answered, "Yes!  It's just straight down the street we were on."

"What?!" I exclaimed.  "You should have drawn me a map like I did for you!!"

Abe responded, "You mean you wanted me to draw a straight line for you?"  "Yes!  I needed the straight line!!!" I exclaimed.

I turned around, sprinted all the way back, and then ran down the correct street.  I jumped in his car and started to drive towards the party which was almost an hour away.  Because I'm directionally challenged, I had no idea how to make it out of the side streets without my GPS.  My GPS took me down every street that had block-aids for the parade.  I tried about 5 different streets!

The panic started to set in again… I HAD to be on time for this party!

Some young cadets were standing at the block-aids; they were of no help how to get me out.  In a desperate voice I said, "Please, somebody help me get out of here!"  Their superior finally pointed for me to go in the opposite direction I had been driving.  I finally cleared the parade and was on my way.

Since I'm severely hypoglycemic, I still needed to get a good protein meal in me before the 4 hour party, and I needed to buy some new shoes that matched what I was wearing!  I had a leeway of about 10 minutes to get all that done.  That would also include any traffic issues along the way.

I decided to take the toll road to save time.  Abe's driver's side window doesn't roll down; so at the toll booth, I had to reach through my back window to give the lady the money.  I gave her a $20 bill.  She slowly counted out each and every one dollar bill apologizing that she didn't have bigger bills.  I smiled; but underneath that smile, my panic was rising… precious minutes were ticking by.

I stopped to get food before the shoes in case I ran out of time and couldn't do both.  I decided I would need food for my brain before I would need shoes for the party.  I would get shoes once I was closer to my location.

I was just a few miles away from the party when I saw a Walgreens.  I ran in praying to find shoes quickly.  I did actually find some sandals immediately!  I got to the check-out.  Two lanes were in use.  One was struggling with a return and the other was just plain slow…. slower because I was in a hurry… because that's just the way things are.

The man in front of me bought his stuff and then said, "Oh sorry.  I don't have enough money.  Let me run out to my car real quick and get it."  I don't even know what came over me, but I said, "NO!  YOU CAN'T!  I DON'T HAVE TIME!"  He didn't even look alarmed at my response.  Thank goodness he had counted wrong- he actually had enough money, and he was done with his transaction.  Phew!  I honestly didn't have time to wait for him to go out to his car!

Then it was my turn… before the cashier would check me out, he felt like he needed to get his pennies out of its plastic roll.  I believe the cashier stood there for a full two minutes trying to get the pennies out.  He hit it on his register drawer, twisted it, and bent it in half, but nothing would get those pennies out.  I was agonizing inside knowing that my precious minutes were ticking by again.  Finally I said, "I'm sorry, but can you PLEASE do that AFTER you check me out.  I won't need pennies.  I'm in a HUGE hurry."  With no expression on his face, he shut his drawer and rang me up…. all in slow motion.

I sprinted out to the car in my new shoes.  I drove to the party and couldn't find it for several minutes.  I made several loops around the block.  I saw a cop car and tried to ask him where it was, but the cop was out of his car across the parking lot… no time.  I prayed for help as I made more loops.  Finally, I found the party hidden between several buildings and covered by a bunch of trees.

I parked the car still doing ok with time.  However, Abe's car has a problem.  When you take the key out, it continues to beep as if the key were still in.  You have to jiggle it- literally about 20 times- until the beeping stops or else the battery will die.  This time the beeping would not stop!  I jiggled it and prayed as hard as I could.  I contemplated just leaving it with the beeping.  Then I prayed harder deciding it would not be professional to have the people there jump start my car after my job was finished.  After several heart-felt prayers, the beeping finally subsided.  Phew!  I thanked God and ran up to the front of the party to announce that the "Balloon Lady" had arrived.  (I made it 2 minutes before it started.)  What a miracle after all that mess!

The Balloon Party

I immediately began tying balloons for the children who were beginning to arrive.  After working for a couple of hours I began to wonder where the people were who hired me.  I had never personally met them, but I knew their names.  Surely, they would come up and introduce themselves.  I continued to work.  I don't think I stopped twisting balloons for longer than a minute the entire time.

… but I continued to worry about not meeting the people who hired me.

Where were they?  What if I'm at the wrong party?  Why was I so stupid to not talk to them before I started?

It is Christmastime- there are parties everywhere on a Saturday afternoon!  What if everybody just assumed that "the other guy" hired me, so they didn't question my appearance at their Christmas party.   I began asking the children what their parents did for a living to find out if I was at the right party.  One said his mom worked in the office building… another said her dad was a fork-lift driver… I was REALLY beginning to worry.  NOBODY said they were a Disney character as I assumed they all were.  I stopped asking and began to wonder if they would still  pay me even though I was at the wrong party.

I noticed the party was coming to a close, and it hadn't been the 4 hours of work yet.  "Shoot… I AM at  the wrong party!" I thought.

It wasn't until I had worked 3 hours and 15 minutes straight that a man approached me and said, "I just wanted to personally thank you for all your work.  I have never seen the kids so happy at one of our parties before.  I would like to hire you again."  Then he said his name.  What a HUGE RELIEF!  I recognized his name!  That meant he was going to pay me!  Even better, the party was ending 45 minutes early, and I would still be paid for the full four hours.  That was a huge blessing because my hands were trembling from working so hard.

He gave me a paper to write down all my information, and I could hardly move my fingers to even write.  I didn't care.  I just thanked God that all had gone well.  Boy it didn't seem like it would at times!

I learned something about myself.  I tend to panic a little too easily.  I need to trust God more.  HE has never failed me.

It's in my genetics to be eccentric though.  My father always called my mother "Lucille Ball."  He said he lived in a constant Lucille Ball episode.

I'm silly… sometimes I imagine my sister (who died) or others up in heaven lovingly laugh at my frequent, unwarranted panics!

I did have one very big benefit on my side though….

Confidence!!

Every time something went wrong, the thought came into my mind. "I'm so glad I read my scriptures today.  I'll be inspired to know what to do in THIS situation."  The scriptures give me the confidence that because I have invited God into my day, I know that HE is helping me through my craziest of circumstances.  Can  you imagine the panic I would have if I didn't have that confidence???  Wow!!  The scriptures and my constant prayers are truly my life-lines.  Oh- and the sandals… I have received more compliments on my quick-buy, cheap sandals than on any others I've ever owned- which is good because all my other shoes are in storage… somewhere. :-)

Oh the miracles...  It is no coincidence that despite the traffic, broken shoes, and miscommunication, I arrived at my destination just in time.  It is no coincidence that I received a high-paying balloon job even though I'm a newcomer to Orlando.  There are hundreds (probably even more) networking all over Orlando for balloon entertaining gigs. It is no coincidence that just a few weeks before Christmas, I received this balloon job, and I also have received a sudden piano teaching business with 9 piano students at a period of time when every penny that comes our way is so greatly needed.

It is no coincidence... because these are miracles in my life.  These are moments when God says to me, "It's ok that things seem to be going all wrong… I'm in charge, and it's all going to turn out just right… 

It's perfection actually… because GOD IS IN CHARGE!

Merry Christmas!