Friday, August 07, 2009

WildCard chapter one

He stared at her with superb green eyes the color of a calm sea, but it was his slow smile that pierced her heart. Eyes and smile. Together they pulled her into the deep waters of wild imagination. The six-footer awkwardly tugged on his collar and no wonder, he seemed totally out of place at the theater’s cast party. Ivy Dillon was ripe for romance. She had to meet Whatzhisname.
“Here’s your fruit punch.” Jordan nudged. “I snagged you a cup before the alcohol went in.”
“Thanks.” Ivy turned toward her roommate. “By the way, who’s that?”
“The great looking guy near the window.” Ivy tipped her head in that direction.
“You can’t mean Martin?” Jordan snorted.
“Martin?” Ivy whipped around and squinted. Sure enough, the man she set her sighs on meeting had disappeared and in his place was Martin, still wearing his stage makeup. He waved at her. Ivy waved back, disappointedly. “No not him.”
Ivy cruised through the stage director’s apartment, trying to catch sigh of the man with the interesting angular features, the hair that curled up along his neckline, and, oh yes, those eyes—those amazing eyes.
On the way by the dessert table, the chocolate covered strawberries distracted her. She bit into one, enjoying the meeting of two rivers of flavors, and just like that Whatzhisname appeared in front of her. A miracle!
“You have a bit of chocolate right there,” he told her pointing at the corner of her mouth.
“Thanks,” Ivy croaked.
“May I?” he asked permission to touch her skin and wipe the chocolate away.
Ivy moved closer and felt the gentle stroke of his touch. Just like strawberries and chocolate, Ivy knew they were meant to be.
“There, you’re perfect again.” He licked his chocolate finger and then glanced around the room scanning faces. “Great opening night for the play. Do you know the cast?”
Ivy nodded. “Yes, in fact, the leading actress is my friend.”
“Jordan Belle is your roommate? Interesting.”
“How did you know she was my roommate?”
Just as Whatzhisname opened his mouth to answer, Martin swayed up and held out a platter of canap├ęs. “Would you help pass these for me, d

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Garage Sale Blues

Robin Lee Shope, a self-confessed "garage sale junkie," shares how she was consumed by disappointment over a lost bargain—until God changed her tune:

I parked in front of the house [that was holding the inside moving sale]. The front door was open as if urging, Come in and buy my treasures. As I wandered through the house, searching for hidden gems, I found a case under a pile of old bedspreads in the back bedroom. Inside was a shiny saxophone, beautifully engraved with the figure of a woman. It was vintage, in pristine condition, and mine for only $20.
Unfamiliar with the going rate for instruments, I called my husband to do a quick eBay search. No way could I afford to end up with another white elephant to store in my shed. It was crowded enough!
I heard Rick's fingers tapping, then silence. "There aren't any listed."
Odd. It seemed to me that someone should have at least one saxophone for sale. "You're sure?"
"Not one."
I ended the call, worried. I was $20 poorer and the proud owner of a shiny saxophone that might not sell. What did I know about musical instruments? All I could play was the radio. As I was leaving, an elderly man stopped me. "Can I buy that saxophone from you?" he asked hopefully. "I'll give you $20 more than what you paid."
I was thrilled. I'd not only recoup my 20 dollars, I'd make 20 more—and within minutes of my purchase. I viewed it as God's unexpected provision, a blessing. …
[Later that day] I sat at the computer, pulled up the eBay homepage, and entered the type of saxophone I'd owned for less than five minutes. To my horror, three exact matches popped up, all selling for over $500. "Rick!" I wailed, pointing at the screen. "Look!"
He wrinkled his nose. "Oh."
"You said there weren't any saxophones listed!" I felt weak. I was losing consciousness.
"That's weird. When I looked there weren't any listed."
Suddenly, I realized the problem: Rick hadn't gone to the eBay homepage; he'd gone to my seller's page. Of course I didn't have a sax listed. I had an enamel coffee pot with no bids, a sunbonnet girl quilt with no bids, and a primitive cabinet, also without a bid. I'd sold the sax cheap. God wanted to bless me abundantly, but I'd blown it! It was as if someone had snatched money right out of my pocket, and I'd let it happen. …
It was done. Finished. No chance for a do-over. Yet I couldn't let it go. Late at night I sat sleepless, angry with myself for harboring ill feelings. My brain kept replaying the moment I sold the sax, while a bitter little voice whispered that the old man had probably pawned it. I felt envious, consumed by greed—and guilty. God was revealing a side of me that I hadn't known existed.
I opened the Bible to Galatians 6: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Next I turned in my concordance to the verses on praising God and made note cards of ten verses. Each time I thought about the sax, I lifted my arms and praised God, thanking him and quoting Scripture. "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you" (1 Thess. 5:18). I was amazed by how my turmoil fled, leaving behind pure happiness. It set me free, and once more my life became enjoyable. I even let Rick off the hook, so his life became enjoyable as well!
A few months later as I was perusing a garage sale, I spied my sax buyer hunched over a box, sifting through old sheet music. Feeling the old twinge of regret, I pretended not to see him. But he recognized me and cheerfully called out, "Hello there! Have you found any treasures today?"
"No." …
[And] as I turned to walk away, he caught hold of my arm. "I want you to know that because of your spontaneous generosity, I rekindled my old passion for the saxophone. Being retired, I now volunteer my time to teach kids how to play." He wiggled his fingers over the keys of an invisible sax. It was then I noticed his frailty, his worn clothes, and his scuffed shoes.
And suddenly I understood. I thought he'd stolen my blessing, when in fact he was my blessing. God's provision is for us all. And I was blessed to have received it twice, and in the most unusual place.
I'd call that a double blessing.