Monday, January 15, 2018
During the Christmas season I set out on an adventure to Disneyworld with my son and his family, which included two beautiful grandchildren. At that time, I just didn’t realize just how much of an escapade it would be. One dark evening, when I pulled into the automatic gate of our hotel, I decided to get close to the keypad and enter the code from the car. I wasn’t familiar with the “flying buttresses” of Florida’s safety bollards, which stick out in the air from the poles. As I pulled away I heard the awful, distressing sound of concrete on metal! When I climbed out of the cute little black rental car, my heart sank. The left backseat passenger side had a gash a foot long! Of course, I had decided not to get rental insurance since my company covered car rentals, but with a $500 deductible! I chastised myself all the way up to my room and informed my son of the tragedy. He took it in stride and went down to inspect the damage.
The next morning, he rubbed off the yellow paint I thought was a gash, took pictures and whisked them off to several auto repair shops. The estimates came back between $600 to $800! (Isn’t Florida supposed to be cheaper than New York?) Anyway, they told us the rental agency would charge double that, so we decided to get it fixed here. With my driving history, I’ve had several mishaps in parking lots on dark rainy nights, I didn’t want to go through my insurance. So, we were holding out for one more estimate from Magic Dent Repair. By then it was 9:30 and I wanted to get to Epcot, my favorite park. When he texted me to call him, I immediately did so.
I couldn’t believe it when he told me it would cost only $140! My son heard that and jumped up, “Let’s go now! I was hesitant. “The Magic Dent Repair” guy said to meet us in a half an hour in a parking lot ten minutes away. It didn’t sound Kocher to me. However, the price was enticing so we decided to check it out. After a few wrong directions, we found him parked behind some bushes with a stack of large green totes where he kept his tools and of course a black pick up truck. Oh boy, I conjectured, this really is shaping up into a shady deal!
However, after five minutes of evaluating the dent and validating who he said he was with his NASA ID badge, we agreed. Yup, he told us he was a security guard for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration down the road at Cape Canaveral. I thought his story sounded out of this world, but Epcot’s call grew louder, so I agreed to his terms.
With a trembling hand, I handed over the rental car keys to him, and shook my finger. “You better be legit. I’m from New York and I’ll sic my NYPD nephews on you!”
On the way to Epcot in the shuttle, I fell apart. What a fool I am, I chided. I texted him right away and demanded he send me a picture with his progress. To my surprise, he answered a few minutes later with a picture and text. “I’ll send you another photo when it’s finished.” I relaxed a little and prayed we weren’t being duped.
Making plans for the pickup then became an issue because I had to take the shuttle back to the hotel and I wanted to stay to see the “Candlelight Processional and the “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” light show. After a few texts back and forth with his wife, we arranged to pick up the car at 11:30 after he got out of work. I shook my head. What a perfect scam this could be and what a bunch of suckers we were! Stupid. Although he had five-star reviews online, he probably got his conspirators to write them. Once again, I prayed Mr. Magic wasn’t half way to the coast in my getaway rental by the time we went to retrieve it.
In my mind, I saw police strobe lights and thousands of dollars slipping though my fingers. Yet suffice is to say, it all worked out in the end! In the dark of night, we met him in the Whole Food parking lot and followed his car into a gated community. I was so relieved when I saw the car in his driveway and the dent repaired. I gladly paid the $140 by credit card, so I could have a record of him. Sure enough, the receipt text came through as “Magic Dent Repair.” The operation was legitimate! Mr. Magic, NASA security guard talked with us for about fifteen minutes like we were old friends and assured us it would pass the rental agency’s inspections. It did, thank the Lord. But as I contemplated this whole venture, a life lesson and spiritual application started to percolate.
Stay tuned for Part II, the whole reason I wrote about this crazy adventure! If you liked what you read, please consider subscribing to this blog. I’d also love for you to leave a comment.
Posted by Anita Estes at 1/15/2018
Monday, January 1, 2018
The Last Jedi was filled with all things Star Wars except Hans Solo, though he was represented through his son who had turned to the dark side. There were plenty of fighter starships twists and turns, zooming through corridors, ascending and descending at light speed, appearances of R2D2, 3CPO, Chewbacca and of course lots of light saber fights, dramatic music that resonates from years past, a sprinkling of odd creatures and plenty of opportunities for eye popping 3d. Yet being an original Star Wars fan, it was a bitter sweet parting to Star Wars’, Princess Leah.
I was young when Star Wars burst on the scene, well younger than I am today. Princess Leah was young and beautiful, full of spunk and fire. In this last role, she is the mature commander full of quiet wisdom and the wrinkles of age. Time took its toll on actor Carrie Fischer as evidenced in this last film and her parting from this world. It was a little heart wrenching to see her on the big screen knowing that she no longer lives and breathes. New young talent occupied the leading role, while Luke Skywalker, determined not to be part of the whole redemption of the galaxy, isolated himself like a hermit, a lifestyle my husband idolizes. Visited one more time by Yoda, the Last Jedi is once again the hero of this tale of good verses evil on a galactic level.
The movie gave me much to think about, maybe more than most considering my age. It certainly was a reminder of how short our time is here on planet earth. It’s over in the blink of a Jedi flash of light. What have I done with my life in the time span from the first Star Wars to episode viii? I’ve raised a family of three children, remained married, which is a major feat these days. I now have three grandchildren and hope to pass on the legacy. I have seen the light and stepped into the position of a true Jedi—fighting evil, at least that’s how I see it. I’ve taken up a different sword—the Word of God.
It is sharper than any sword and able to discern the intentions of the heart. It’s not meant to destroy, but to bring conviction and life, eternal life. This sword cuts down the enemies of injustice and poverty and challenges us to give of our lives, money, time and talent. It tells us “If you spend yourself on the behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become as noonday” (Isaiah 58:10). That’s the kind of light saber I want to wield.
I want to live as a Jedi who gives his/her life for what he/she believes in and for the greater good. Not to spoil it for you, but you probably know that Master Skywalker eventually gives himself to help the “last of the rebellion” to survive against the Imperial forces. He has overtones of Jesus Christ, giving his life as a ransom for many, though the religion of Star Wars if far from Christian.
There is no god in Star Wars, but The Force, a nonrepresentational energy that connects everyone together. “May The Force be with you” is the maxim that they live by. There is the light and dark side of The Force and tension and conflict exists between the two, the forces of good vs. evil, a tale as old as time. These are elements of spirituality, but nothing like a personal God who comes down from heaven to save his people from the consequences of sin and death. Yet, in this episode Luke’s final actions are much more Christ like that any other figure in Star Wars. Why? Because this is what resonates with humanity. Giving your life for another is the supreme act of heroism in our eyes. I think it accounts for a good deal of the success of Star Wars. It certainly isn’t a new or original theme, though the setting is SciFi, intergalactic, somewhat original, yet the graphics are pushed more and more into another realm of near virtual reality.
However, I would rather live in the virtuous reality than virtual reality. I, like most people, have a conflict between the dark and light sides though I have given myself to the light. I work as an art teacher in an impoverished community, and I try to enrich the lives of those who are rejected by much of society, young children living in the inner city. My colleagues and I are dedicated to educating them as best we can. We are working to eliminate ignorance and discrimination. While I am certainly no Jedi fighter on the level of Star Wars, there is an element as in Lord of the Rings that we are not born conquerors of evil, but need to train for it. We are just the everyday person, the “scum” as Star Wars points out, no one special, but we are made to be special. We need to first recognize that the forces of good and evil exist. They push and pull at us every day, and we must decide to serve one master or the other, darkness (Satan) or light (Jesus).
It is my intention here to spark your thoughts, to get you thinking, so I will leave you with this last thought, a quote from a Bob Dylan song, “You gotta serve somebody. It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody.” Who have you chosen?
If you like what you’ve read, please leave a comment and consider following me by subscribing to my posts. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Posted by Anita Estes at 1/01/2018
Friday, December 29, 2017
Did you get what you really wanted for Christmas? I got some things I wanted, but not everything. How about you? Did you ask for diamonds and get rust? Did you want to see family and get discord? Did you want laughter and get tears? I got very sick Christmas night, which I didn’t ask for, but I got it anyway. I was fortunate that I had it for only one night though it left me tired the next day. Yet it gave me time to reflect on my own life. I hope my insights help you overcome any disappointments you may have experienced.
I saw that I put a great emphasis on decorating and buying presents this year. I didn’t forget about Jesus, He’s part of the fabric of my life, but my focus wasn’t there. I tried to keep Him primary, but got too busy. There was room for Him at the manager, replete with the angelic faced Mary and humble Joseph and heralding angels, but no so much in the living room of my heart. I wanted things this year, small things, but nonetheless things. I wanted family, fun, friends, peace and harmony. I had fun at Disney with two of my grandchildren, my grandson and daughter in law, but then I got a dent in the rental car, that put a crimp into the vacation. Yet it all got worked out in a very unusual way!
When I arrived home, I wanted peace in my family and there was some discord. It all worked out in the end, but it wasn’t perfect. I wanted to have fun eating, playing games and unwrapping gifts, but there was some tension. I wanted everything perfect. Did I just admit that? I wanted perfection? Perhaps. It might be part of my artistic nature, but still it’s a part that can drag me down, when circumstances don’t go my way. The Lord showed me I don’t have to do everything, neither do you. It’s hard when you are the one who can usually do it all, but there’s something to be learned in slowing down and taking life as it comes.
I’ve coped with a lot in the family—addiction, depression, anxiety, but not as much as some people with their deep griefs and losses. For some the Christmas season is like a dagger to the heart, but I’ve always loved Christmas, though a little less this year because of some of the issues I dealt with during the season—family tensions, stresses and tempers. I also had to cancel my annual Christmas party because I was sick one day and didn’t want to get others sick. I had everything ready. Disappointing. Yet it gave me the time to sit down and write this blog post. I also had some funding problems with this Christian newsletter our writer’s group has started. Another disappointment. And the devotional book I wrote, I AM Calling is not selling well, though I was told people don’t buy paperback devotionals anymore, but it still is disheartening. So what’s the bottom line?
· Don’t build up such high expectations for Christmas, holidays, birthdays and life. Easier said than done, but something to watch out for and guard your heart against.
· Submit all plans to the Lord and wait on Him. How? Let Him lead and guide you. See where He takes you, what opportunities He opens up to you.
· Be in prayer daily and keep your ears open to what He says. Take time for Him to respond either through scripture reading, meditating on the Word of God or worship songs.
· Don’t be easily discouraged. Take comfort in Him. Read the Psalms and encourage your soul in Him.
· Give yourself time to breath, relax, regroup, rest and create.
· Enjoy the blessings God has given you. Don’t always go venturing over the rainbow, but look in your own backyard for pots of gold.
· Take time to do what you truly enjoy; the gifts God has given you.
I hope you have a beautiful and blessed New Year filled with contentment and peace!!!
If you liked what you read, please comment and consider subscribing to my posts. Thank you!
If you liked what you read, please comment and consider subscribing to my posts. Thank you!
Posted by Anita Estes at 12/29/2017
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind. (Luke 4:18)
A new year is upon you. Light has dawned, and the warm wind of the Spirit is blowing. It is a gentle breeze, so you must stop to feel it. It is a year of reprieve and favor from the Lord. It is the Word My Son proclaimed, “The acceptable year of the Lord” (Isa. 61:2). Enter into His favor, and do the works My Son did. Not by might or by your own power but by My Spirit will you be able to perform them. Let the Spirit breath upon you and quicken your mortal body and give you vision. Let Him set you free from the things that have tripped you up all your life, roadblocks like worry, fear, bitterness, indecision, and lack of revelation. “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint” (Prov. 29:18), but this doesn’t need to be your story. I AM sending you My Holy Spirit. He will give you insight, wisdom, and the strength to do My will. Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. (Isa. 41:10) My sheep do not fear. I will catch you if you fall. If you are My child, you cannot fall to destruction. I AM your safety net. You may trip and stumble, but you will not be destroyed. I AM there to catch you, to pick you up and put you back on your feet again. You may need to wipe off the dirt from your face or clean off the skinned knees. When you fall, quickly confess your failings. Apply the antiseptic of My cleansing blood. Be washed clean. Know there is nothing to fear in falling when you apply the truth of My Word.
Posted by Anita Estes at 12/10/2017
Saturday, November 4, 2017
The winner of the Goodreads contest was chosen. There were 650 entries. You can still get your kindle copy for 50% off! (This week you can enter a free book giveaway contest on Good reads to win a copy of The Dividing Stone. (See sidebar for entry.). Here's a few sample pages to whet your appetite:
The autumn leaves blazed a trail down the mountainside, spilling into a pool of cornfields outside of town. Mesmerized by nature’s beauty and mulling over the letter’s contents, Margo missed the stop sign. A car went speeding through and nearly crashed into her. She jumped and slammed on the brakes. Her car skidded to a stop.
The driver shook an angry fist. “Watch where you’re going, you idiot,” he yelled out the window.
Margo’s leg shook as she slowly pressed her foot on the gas. Could this be a warning? Perhaps she should just forget about the letter and go back to the studio. Yet an unseen force compelled her. Dear God, protect me and show me the meaning of this letter.
With no time to waste, she raced up the steps of the old stone library, determined to find the truth—or at least one more clue. She reached to open the heavy wooden door and slipped on some pebbles on the landing.
Her foot skidded across the stone and her hair whipped in front of her face. She couldn’t see and nearly lost her balance.
Another close call.
She brushed aside her long honey-brown tresses and took a deep breath.
I need to slow down and pay attention. First the stop
sign, now this. Margo, get a grip! She tugged at the oversized door, but it didn’t open, so she knocked.
Still no answer.
Just my luck. She peered into the window. A lone librarian sat at her desk, filing cards. Margo tapped on the aged glass that made the figure inside appear somewhat distorted, almost dreamlike. Surprised, the old woman looked up from her work, squinted, then hobbled forward.
Hurry up. I don’t have all day. Margo twisted her hair. Her multilevel strands of thought turned to her previous computer research concerning her missing relative, part of the family secret. It had proven somewhat successful, but not complete. After that, nothing but dead links—frustrating. So she’d abandoned the search for a while, until now.
She just happened to be looking for a picture in the attic and rummaging through a box of her mother’s overlooked belongings when she discovered the letter—tucked in a box of old photographs. It certainly shined new light on the subject, but not enough.What she needed lay behind those four walls.
If only she could get in.
The door creaked open and a blast of musty air assaulted Margo’s nostrils. It brought back memories of her grandfather’s collection of old books. For a moment, Margo stood mesmerized and envisioned a nineteenth-century woman with her hair tied up in a bun, velvet hat and muff, long trailing coat with petticoats and bustles—similar to the portraits she knew hung in the foyer. Could one of them possibly be…? She fingered the paper in her purse.
Margo crossed over the threshold. She had hoped to avoid the librarian, but it didn’t look good.
The old woman smiled, and her wrinkles deepened. “Good morning, dear. Haven’t seen you in a while. Looks like you’ve been working at the studio.”The librarian looked down at Margo. “Oh,that…”She brushed off the dried clay on her work jeans.
The gray-haired woman stared at her.“So what will it be today, my dearie—the world of the River Valley artists or a Victorian mystery in the drawing room perhaps?”
Margo let out a long breath. She knew no matter what she would tell her she’d prattle on about this book and that, pouring out her wealth of wisdom and knowledge in a ten-course diatribe that left Margo’s head spinning. She decided to take a chance.
“Truthfully…I’ve been researching my family tree.”
“Oh, how exciting.” The elderly woman clasped her hands together.
Her pause gave Margo just enough time to slide past the rolltop desk and into the hallway.
The librarian called after her, “Just let me know if you need any help. My father was the local historian and he knew…”
Her voice faded as Margo disappeared. Maybe she should ask the librarian, but then again, she might suspect something.
No. Better do the research herself…then maybe her recurring nightmare would make some sense.
She entered into a network of small rooms crammed with leather-bound books but bypassed these for the moment. The next room narrowed, and on the walls hung the aging oil paintings. Though she knew the paintings here, she’d never studied the names before.They were darkly rendered portraits of the founding fathers and their families, stark and rigid. She read their nameplates—Hasbrocks, DuBois, and Eltin—but none with the name in the letter.
On the opposite side hung one woman’s portrait that looked unlike the others. She’d never seen it before. Her hair was not pinned up in a bun, and the corners of her lips turned up just a little. Margo read the engraved brass plate, “Sarah E. Dubier, wife of Colonel Louis Dubier.” The letters flashed recognition. Dub——just like the note.
Margo’s legs wobbled as she came one step closer to the truth.
Posted by Anita Estes at 11/04/2017