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Many years ago, when I was 24 years

Posted by Carol on June 1, 2013

Many years ago, when I was 24 years old, God used an orange Volkswagen Rabbit, a sporty red Audi, and a toll-taker to teach me a valuable lesson that I’ve carried with me to this day.

My husband and I had been married a few years and, like many newly married couples, we had no money.  I was driving the ugliest car on earth, an orange Volkswagen Rabbit.

There are several reasons why this car was the ugliest car on earth. Reason one – it was orange, my least favorite color. Not just my least favorite, but the color I detest the most.  The color orange offends my eyes. 

Secondly, it was ugly because it was old, and rusting and falling apart. So much so, that when it rained, water collected in the hatchback. And I don’t remember the interior being much to look at either.

But it was transportation. And it got me back and forth to work each day.  At that time, I was working with my mother and step-father at their medical practice. Every day when I drove to work, I had to pay a toll to cross the Charter Oak Bridge in E. Hartford, CT. Every day, as I approached the toll, I would pull all the way over to the toll booth at the far right.  The center ones always had the longest lines and I wanted to avoid all that.  Every day, I would give my pre-paid toll ticket to the same ticket taker in the booth all the way to the right. And every day it was me in my ugly-as-sin old beat up orange Volkswagen Rabbit. And every day, the toll taker would not say a word to me or even look my way. He would just take my ticket.

That is until one day, my ugly orange Volkswagen Rabbit stopped working and had to go to the shop. Since my husband and I had very little money, we couldn’t afford for me to miss work on top of having a car repair bill.  Also, my mother and step-father liked having me in the office to get things done. They liked being able to go to lunch together while I was in the office, answering phones and being there in case any afternoon patients showed up early. 

So, it was a win-win scenario for my mother and step-father to let me drive one of their cars until my ugly orange car got fixed. I don’t know why, but the car they chose to let me borrow was a sporty, not orange, but cherry-red newer model Audi.  It definitely was a giant step up from my ugly old car.

The next day, I got ready for work as usual, got in the cherry-red Audi and headed to the office.  And as usual, I pulled all the way to the toll booth to the right to give the toll taker my ticket. But, not as usual, the toll taker didn’t ignore me. That day, he decided to say, “Well, hellloooooo!”

The exchange literally took seconds. I handed him my ticket and he said hello. But that exchange taught me a valuable lesson. Because his greeting that day made me very angry.

It made me angry because suddenly , I was worthy of his hello. It was still me driving through the toll booth, handing him my ticket. The only difference was that day, I was driving a cherry-red Audi instead of an ugly orange Rabbit. The drastic change in my vehicle somehow had increased my value in his eyes.

But my value, and yours, is not derived from the kind of car we drive, the house we live in, or the price of the clothes we wear. Our value is derived from who we are in the eyes of God. We are His creation and He is crazy in love with His children. Brennan Manning put it this way, “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.”

I’m not sure why anger was the emotion that “hello” stirred in me that day. It just felt so wrong to me that the car I was in somehow made me better in the toll taker’s eyes. I still bristle inside to this day when I feel pressure to “be” or “do” something because it might make someone think better of me.

I know of a couple who once owned a financial planning business. When they first started out, they decorated their office as best they could. And knowing this couple the way I do, I’m sure the office looked just fine.

 One day, a well-dressed man walked into the office. The wife, who was the receptionist, asked, “May I help you?”

“No, thanks,” said the gentleman, “I’m just looking around.” 

And after he examined every piece of furniture and picture on the wall, he walked out. The couple assumed that because their office wasn’t decorated grandly enough, he didn’t think they were successful enough to handle his finances.

(That was a big assumption; he could have just been a weirdo.)

So, trying to make the “right” impression on future potential clients, the couple spent thousands and thousands of dollars redecorating their office.

That story makes me cringe.

I am a real estate agent. I have to prospect for new clients all the time. If I had to spend thousands of dollars to impress someone with my “success”, then that person just isn’t meant to be my client.

Gary Keller (co-founder of Keller Williams real estate) put it perfectly at our last convention when he was encouraging agents not to go into debt to build their businesses. He was talking about buying a sensible car for our real estate business. Gary said that many agents feel they have to drive an expensive or fancy car to impress their clients. He hit a home run with me when he said, “If a client is judging your ability as a real estate agent based on the car you drive, you have an idiot for a client.”

Ouch!

“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.”

So it is an illusion when we think we are more, or better, or successful because of “things” – things we wear or drive or own. Our value, our only value, comes from the value God places on us. This goes totally against what society tells us. The world tells us to amass “stuff” and the more stuff we get will make us happy and important.

Dave Ramsey says in his Financial Peace class, “We buy cars we can’t afford to impress people we’ll never see again at red lights.”

Hmmm…

“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God…”

Now that my husband and I have been married for nearly 27 years and have had job promotions and salary increases – and yes, have amassed more “stuff”, I ask God to always help me remember to be defined by who I am in His eyes and not by anything else that doesn’t really matter anyway.

 

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And They’re Off!

Posted by Carol on January 5, 2011

Alternate title:  Bye, Bye, Love!

I think I am beauty-product challenged. Let me explain.

We had two weddings, two weekends in a row back at the end of September. I conveniently used the excuse of having to be all fancy for the weddings to justify getting acrylic nails.

Then I used the excuse of looking professional to keep them.

See –

Before

Although I never realized that my pointer finger nail was so crooked, I loved my acrylic nails. I loved everything about them. I loved how they look, I loved how they felt, I loved how strong they were.

But, I’ve had to say goodbye to my new love.

It turns out I am allergic to the acrylic.  Everytime I would go for a fill, my fingers would itch from the bottom of the nail to my first knuckle for 2-3 days. I mentioned this to the nail tech and she compassionately said, “You’ll get used to it.”

Well, I never “got used to it”.

I posted my plight on Facebook, and one of my friends (who owns her own salon in Indiana) diagnosed my condition as contact dematitis. She also told me that I should go with either silk or gel nails.

That is a really great plan, however, my husband and I have also decided that 2011 is the “year of no spending”.  Our goal is to pay down our mortgage as much as possible. So, we are cutting back on everything but the essentials.

Unfortunately, acrylic nails are a non-essential.

However, God knew what He was doing by striking me with contact dermatitis. He knew I was being sorely tempted to keep my nails (that I loved SOOO much) as a businiess expense. It would have been so easy to just keep on going every two weeks for my fills at a cost of about $25 per visit.

But when I actually had to make the decision to get the acrylics off and put silks or gels on, I knew what the right thing to do was.

And off my beloved nails went.

After

Sigh.

And to add insult to injury, I also had a reaction to my new lip stain.

A few weeks ago, my beautiful sister-in-law and I were Christmas shopping for our daughters at Ulta. And as women often do in beauty supply stores, we each bought ourselves a new lip stain.

Although I loved my acrylic nails more, I was growing fond of the new lip stain, too. Then one day I woke up and my lips were hurting. Hurting like they were severely chapped. Which would make sense living in a dry climate such as Colorado.  But it didn’t make sense because when you live in a dry climate like Colorado, you quickly learn that lip balm is your best friend 24/7.  There was no way that my lips were simply chapped.

Over the course of the next few days, the entire top layer of my lips peeled off and were very sensitive to spicy food. Because of all the peeling, I didn’t use much of anything but lip balm on my lips.

I was puzzled over the mystery of the peeling lips.

Once all the peeling was done, which left my lips incredibly soft, BTW, I started using my new lip stain again.

And the peeling started all over again. At this rate I will be completely lip-less for the new year. So, bye, bye, Lip Stain.

I know all this is not exactly earth-shattering or life-changing news, but the older I get, the more I need to rely on beauty products to hold myself together. At 46, this is not a great time in my life to become beauty product challenged.

I think the safest way for me to go is to become Amish.

You can see more of what doesn’t work well today at We are THAT Family.

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Happy Mother’s Day ~ Love Never Fails by Brandon Heath

Posted by Carol on May 8, 2010

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Walking

Posted by Carol on December 5, 2009

I had the opportunity to go to the movies by myself today. I know some people feel weird going to the movies alone, but I kind of enjoy it. When you’re with someone else, by the time the movie starts, you’re not supposed to be talking  anyway. Unless you can’t afford to buy popcorn. Then, talk away and pretty soon everyone will be sharing throwing their popcorn with at you.

I went to see The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock. It is the true story of professional football player, Michael Oher. I read an interview with Sandra about making the movie. She got to sit down with the wealthy white woman whose family took in Michael as a homeless teenager.

In her interview, Sandra said that meeting Michael’s “mother” restored her faith in people who claim to be Christians. She said it was nice to meet someone who actually “walked the walk” instead of just being all talk.

While I don’t think God is calling me to bring a stranger into my home, I do think He would like me to ask myself, “Am I walking the walk, or am I all talk?”

Do I only walk where I feel it’s “safe” to walk? Am I the same around my Christian friends that I am around my family? Am I the same when I’m at work as I am at church?

Are there 2 Carol’s that the world sees or am I a reflection of the One whose name I claim to follow?

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Agnus Dei by Michael W. Smith

Posted by Carol on November 26, 2009

On this day of Thanksgiving, let us give thanks and praise to the One from Whom all blessings flow…

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Please pray for Andrew

Posted by Carol on September 21, 2009

Dear Bloggy Friends,
This is not one of those chain emails that when you check it out on Snopes.com you find out it is false or way out of date. A precious woman who reads my blog and comments regularly, Melanie, has a 12 year old son, Andrew, with a life threatening brain tumor. To follow their story, please go to http://bellamella-melanie.blogspot.com/ and start reading at her August 25th entry.

I haven’t written much lately and I’m running off to my real estate class in a few minutes, but I felt this was too important to not ask my wonderful friends in Bloggsville to pray about.

Hugs,

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Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip -It’s DipTacular!

Posted by Carol on September 4, 2009

BooMama is hosting a DipTacular Recipe Carnival. Since this is the most wonderful dip recipe I know, I am sharing it with all of Bloggsville . Thanks to my cousin Debbie for sharing it with me in the first place! Click here for more great dip recipes just in time for football season!

Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • bottle of blue cheese dressing (small)
  • Mozzarella cheese to sprinkle generously on top
  • 1 bottle wing sauce

Boil chicken until cooked. Shred chicken and simmer in the wing sauce for 30 minutes. Spread cream cheese in baking dish. Add chicken with wing sauce. Top chicken with blue cheese dressing – about 3/4 of bottle. Top with a couple of hand fulls of mozzarella. Stir until mostly mixed. Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly about 30 minutes. Serve with Frito chips scoops.

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Worship Song Sunday ~ Revelation Song by Kari Jobe

Posted by Carol on June 7, 2009

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Worship Song Sunday ~ Little Drummer Boy by Faith Hill

Posted by Carol on December 14, 2008

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Worship Song Sunday ~ Song of Hope by Robbie Seay Band

Posted by Carol on May 18, 2008

 

Yes, it is really Sunday this time!

Be Blessed,

Carol

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