The Faithbook

A place of writing and reflection…

Counting It All Joy

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My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

—James 1:2-8

Ever have one of those days where it feels like nothing is going quite right? You woke up late, missed your flight and was even later to a very important meeting. You’re driving to the hospital in the midst of an emergency only to get a flat tire and a ticket for speeding. You just got your new phone, but missed an important phone call after your toddler decided it needed a dip in the toilet.

It happens—and unfortunately for the most of us it happens often. Nor are any of us exempt from the tragic pattern. At some point in life things just don’t work out, leaving us to deal with the mess left behind.

Apologies must be made for tardiness, tickets paid, and cell phones replaced.

What’s important is how we handle these things.

Do you pass the blame off for your tardiness on the traffic and a renegade alarm clock? Do you get a bit irate with the cop as he’s writing out your ticket? Do you get dramatic with your child for ruining the phone they thought was a toy?

Last weekend I had the opportunity to go on what my community calls a “Cheese Promo”. Here, we have a creamery in which produces various kinds of cheese from our own heard of cattle and goats. This variety includes different types of Gouda or aged cheeses, two types of cheddar, and several different Chevre or french style goat cheeses. To get our product out there we go on promotions.

These promos, as we call them, are usually weekend trips to surrounding towns and cities, some of which are often out of state. Teams are sent to places like Kansas City, Fort Madison, and Omaha in hopes of selling our product. From there teams are split up into pairs to either give out samples in stores or to market our product in stores currently not carrying these items.

The days can feel long and are often exhausting, but well worth the effort as we have been welcomed into many stores and new customers buy our product for the first time. There’s nothing more rewarding than to see a customer who never thought they’d like goat cheese step up to the cooler and pick up a couple of logs.

But as I said, these trips are not without their challenges.

For this trip we left expecting snow, and praying for very little of it or in the very least good driving conditions. About half way to our destination we were notified that we were missing a portion of the shipment we were to take to our farthest store. Thus we were delayed at the nearest gas station while awaiting another van bearing our missing stock. After filling up on coffee, cheese, coke, sweet rolls and disappointing breakfast pizza, we were on our way once again.

Everyone was dropped off at their stores to set up tables for samples and connections were made with managers for product shipments.

My partner and I were stationed at a Hyvee store in Burlington, Iowa where the deli manager was very appreciative of our salesmanship, clearing out the first batch of Chevre and most of the Gouda. Of course most of our luck came from our ironic placement of table—by the restrooms.

Can you picture a couple of ladies waving you to their stand with the phrase, “Hello. Would you like to try some cheese,” as you’re trying to make a much needed run to the bathroom?

Our efforts were met with “Just a minute” and “Maybe later” as patrons hurried off to the short hall. Most returned with either curiosity or willingness to try something new. After all, who can resist free food?

Some employees got a kick out of our spicy Brimstone cheese as they had their unsuspecting friends try some. Many were pleased with the goat cheeses we presented as they don’t bear the typical after taste you typically get from goat products, while others were weirded out altogether.

Either way, we sold cheese.

After being throughly chilled to the bone by the coolers and feet tired from standing, we went out for burgers while our team leader tried to remember exactly where our hotel was. (We had a GPS, but it’s relatively pointless without an address.) Fortunately he found it, we checked in, and hit the sack after much conversation about our day.

However, we couldn’t have been prepared for what awaited us the following day.

Due largely to a lack of sleep, our team leader decided to get a head start on the day by driving two hours to the hotel our refrigerator van waited to load up on more cheese for the busy day ahead. All was going according to plan until he realized he had locked the keys in our van with the engine running.

At about four in the morning not many places are open, so he turned to the on duty hotel manager who promptly notified him: “Sir, this hotel is not equipped for those kind of emergencies.” Nor would the gentleman offer a hand to help. Seriously? What kind of a hotel is not equipped with flashlights, a tool kit, or even first aide supplies? (Unlike that hotel, ours in Burlington was ready with three flashlights, a tool kit and even duck tape.)

Bewildered, our team leader grabbed one of our other teammates there and a wire coat hanger from one of their clothes. At first the attempted to pick open the van with the hanger and a cell phone, then later a flashlight. Every attempt failed. Just as they nabbed the lock, the hanger would slip off and they were left to start all over again. To make matters worse the temps that more was below ten degrees.

(It must have been a curious sight with two guys trying to break into a van labeled with “Jesus in the Answer” down the side.)

Finally out of frigid hands and insomnia, our team leader turned to a tire iron. Thus our van returned two hours later with a broken rear window, but product in hand.

After listening to the story, a hearty breakfast, and packing up we headed out in our battle-scared van.

Yet our adventure was not over. We still had cheese to sell and customers to stop on their way to the bathroom. The day turned out to be considerably profitable despite the cardboard patch that now covered our van’s missing window. At the end of the day we cleaned tables, packed up the left overs, and put away the store’s materials for them.

Over dinner that night we discussed the trip as well as the morning’s exciting events. We felt bad for the broken window and our exhausted team leader, but we were all able to find something to laugh at that night whether it were customers, employees or the unfortunate hotel manager with his, “Sir, this hotel is not equipped for those kind of emergencies.”

After all that we needed a good laugh—and laugh we did.

More than ready for our beds we headed home.

The trek was rather uneventful with the exception of trying to find a working radio station as we crossed state borders again until about four miles from our first drop off.

By this time we had ditched the radio, choosing to sing hymns instead while some of the guys were still cracking themselves up in the back.

Then it happened. We hit a deer.

They are notorious creatures for darting out into traffic even in broad daylight and are far worse to a car than running over your typical possum or that stray dog you run into in the city. Hunting season only makes them more prevalent.

Nevertheless, as we were singing “It is Well with My Soul” the daring creature shows up, running alongside the van. For whatever reason, the animal decided running next to the van was not enough of a thrill and decided it wanted to go head on.

The van won.

The deer was slammed by the front bumper as our driver had no time to slow down and attempt to stop. As a result the animal fell to the ground and became victim of the van’s tires. If felt like hitting a speed bump at full speed, sending it rolling beneath the van.

When it was clear, our diver pulled the van over to inspect for damage about a quarter of a mile down. We were expecting in the very least a busted headlight or dented bumper to add to the van’s broken window, but there was nothing—not even a scratch.

Surprised, we hopped into the van to on of the guy’s rendition of the previous hymn we had been singing moments before: “It is well with the deer’s soul…!” (PETA will be after me later for that one.)

Needless to say, we survived, van and all. With the mishaps we were still able to consider it a good weekend and laugh about the window—even with the repair bill looming overhead.

Things don’t always go according to plan, but we shouldn’t let it ruin our day—or week. It’s taken me a long time to get this, and even now I still fall short of it. Yet when all else fails take the advice of this verse:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

—James 1:2-8 (Emphasis added.)

When all else fails and the day just is not working out, turn to the One who can help guide us in the midst of these times. It’s not always easy, nor is it our first reaction.

Sometimes it takes swallowing our pride. Sometimes it takes stepping out of the situation entirely, letting someone else handle it if we can’t with a cooled head later.

For me when I’m struggling with a job, I usually go to lunch, clear my head and stuff my face and by then I’m good to go at it again, if not tackle the project entirely. Other times it takes a lot of prayer.

As for our trip, our team leader could have very well reacted harshly with the not-so-helpful hotel manager. We could have whined the whole time about our achy feet or cold from the coolers. We could have even erupted into panic mode at the sight of the suicidal deer. Yet what would any of that afforded us? Nothing much.

I’ll take the laughter and memories of singing hymns together over the pain a sleepless nights and coolers any day. Best of all, we can say we survived. Cheese Promo anyone?

Copyright The Faithbook 2011

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One comment on “Counting It All Joy

  1. Saoirse7
    Dec 14, 2011

    I think this post is one of the best that I’ve read from you here so far. Engaging, entertaining, hilarious, and truthful–I love it! Congratulations!

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This entry was posted on Dec 14, 2011 by in Experiences and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

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