Blessings in Disguise

Readers share stories of how what seemed bad turned out for the best.
Heart of the Home
March/April 2010
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A couple enjoys being upgraded to first class in "Trying Situation Taught Lesson on Patience."
Brian Orr
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Trying Situation Taught Lesson on Patience

My husband, John, and I began traveling by airplanes to different destinations in the 1970s. Hawaii was our first destination, and it became our favorite.

In 2006, we were once again on our way to beautiful Hawaii, using the last of our air miles. We had been looking forward to this trip for some time, figuring this would be the last time we would make the journey. However, our excitement soon turned to frustration, when, after a two-hour delay, we were told that due to a major problem, we would have to reschedule our flights.

While John checked out the other airlines, I got in line at the desk to book us on another flight, wondering if we should just cancel the trip instead. I was about the 80th person in line, and it seemed like I waited forever.

Finally, I was at the front of the line, and the woman at the desk informed me that we were booked on a new flight, but we would be making two stops in California before boarding a flight for Hawaii. "And, because of the trouble," she said, "we’re boarding you both on first class."

What a dream come true! We had always dreamed of flying first class.

When we boarded first class in San Francisco, we were ushered to comfortable reclining chairs, where we were received warm washcloths, hot tea and a fabulous meal. During the duration of our flight, we were waited on hand and foot.

What started out as a very trying situation eventually turned into a little piece of heaven for us. It also taught us another lesson on patience.

Doris - Hutchinson, Kansas

 

Saying Goodbye Meant Moving Forward

Fifteen years ago, we moved from our old neighborhood, and I was grief-stricken. We had lived in our home for 35 years, and I was not happy about moving.

The house was in dire need of repairs, and my husband said it would cost a bundle to fix it up. I knew he was right and that it would be wiser to invest in a nice, newer place, but I also knew it would be no easy task to leave our castle.

We began looking at houses, and each time we found one, I would find something wrong with it. Finally, after looking at a house three times, I knew this was the one my husband thought would be perfect for our family. As we drove away from the house after looking at it for the third time, I heard an inner voice that was clearly not my own say, "Elinor, go for it. One day you’ll be glad you did." So, I turned to my husband, gave him a forced smile, then agreed to the purchase of the house.

Now we had to get ready for the move – pack up all of our belongings and scrub down the entire house, as well as a million little things in between. What bothered me the most, though, was the thought of leaving the house where our children had grown up, where we had celebrated birthdays and holidays. We would be leaving all those memories behind. And our dear neighbors? How would I say goodbye? How could I say goodbye?

Soon, everything was done, and we moved. I don’t know how many times I drove past our old house the first year after we moved. It seemed like the old house called out to me each time, and I remember thinking that houses don’t have hearts, but homes do ... and this old house had been our home.

We eventually settled into our new house. Time heals, and we’ve made many new memories in our current home.

Our old neighborhood soon became run-down. Some of the houses are now boarded up, and it is a rough neighborhood. Most of the old neighbors are gone, too.

I’m glad we were able to make our new house a home, and I know we have, because our beautiful grandchildren love coming over to Grandma and Grandpa’s.

That inner voice was right. Though I left a piece of my heart in the house I’d lived in for 35 years, I’m glad we made the move. Like the voice said, the day did come.

Elinor - Niagara Falls, New York

 

Realized Death was Blessing

When my husband, Nathan, who had always been healthy and never got sick, began developing some troubling symptoms, we made an appointment with the doctor. When the doctor saw the jaundiced color on Nathan’s face, he immediately ordered tests, which revealed what he suspected: pancreatic cancer. Nathan died six months later.

How could this be? He ate only healthy foods, he played tennis five days a week, he biked and hiked, and we were so happy enjoying our carefree life together. Nathan was only in his early 60s, so how could he die so soon? What about the golden years we had anticipated spending together? Like many widows, I felt my life was over. I lost my faith, and I blamed God.

It took about a year before I opened my eyes, began seeing a clearer perspective, and finally regained my faith.

I looked around and began taking notice of courageous people living meaningful lives even though they were dependent on walkers, wheelchairs, seeing-eye dogs, oxygen tanks or other medical necessities. It struck me then that my husband could not have done that. Nathan had been very active, and I knew he would never have been able to accept and live a good life without being able to be active.

Was it a blessing, then, that he had been taken from his family and friends before the aging process probably would have deprived him of the kind of life he wanted – and needed? At that moment, I knew without a doubt that it was.

Through it all, I have learned that sadness and loss for one person is sometimes a blessing for another.

Hellen - San Diego, California

 

Job Decision Paid Off

The year was 1940, and I had just left the office of a large broadcasting company in Indianapolis, excited about the job I was just offered. It was for a receptionist-secretary, and although the pay wasn’t quite as much as I’d hoped for, it was still a good job, and I could hardly wait to get home and tell my husband.

Before I could share my news with him, though, he told me that while I was gone, I had received a phone call from an employment agency. They had found me a job at a car manufacturing plant that was converting to a tank manufacturing plant for the war effort.

Although the pay was much more than at the broadcasting company, the job wasn’t as glamorous. At the plant, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet celebrities or gather with friends for lunch downtown, and I’d probably have to work overtime.

It was a tough decision to make, but I took the job at the war plant. A short while later, I realized it was a very wise decision. My co-workers were kind, caring and friendly when my husband was drafted, and the bigger paycheck allowed me to take care of our financial affairs while he was gone. No, it wasn’t a glamorous job, but it paid the bills.

Alma - Monrovia, Indiana

 

Military Orders Changed Life

In October 1978, I was stationed in Berlin, Germany. One day, my Air Force supervisor requested a meeting with me, and as I stood before him, I was uneasy about what might lay ahead of me.

He didn’t say anything for a couple of minutes. Finally, he told me I would be receiving military change-of-station orders to be shipped out to Wiesbaden, Germany, for my remaining six months of overseas duty. I couldn’t believe it. I had already served three and a half years in Berlin, and I was anxious to return stateside, not to be relocated to another overseas location before returning to the states.

On December 31, I boarded the Army duty train from Berlin to Frankfort, then to Wiesbaden. Shortly after arriving at Lindsey Air Station, I met my future husband, and I also received permanent change-of-station orders to Loring Air Force Base in Maine. Since Maine was the furthest base from where I wanted to be, I requested an additional year overseas to remain in Wiesbaden.

Over the next 18 months, Phil and I forged a relationship. When the time came to move back to the United States, I was assigned orders to Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, and Phil was assigned to Scott Air Force Base in Mascoutah, Illinois. Over the years, Phil and I stayed in contact with phone calls, cards and a few visits. Then, on September 3, 1993, Phil and I were married, and we have lived "happily ever after" since.

No one could have convinced me that fateful day in October 1978 that my move from Berlin to Wiesbaden would have turned out being anything but disastrous. I was certain that the evil eye had frowned its fateful peeper of misery upon me. Looking back, it was quite the opposite, and I now look upon my overseas move to Wiesbaden as nothing short of God sent.

Joanne - Spencer, Iowa

 

Child’s Upsetting Moment Now a Precious Memory

When I was a child in the 1960s, Peggy Ann was my favorite doll. My mom even made her a red-and-white gingham dress with red trim, which I alternated with her original yellow-flowered dress.

Many hours were spent playing with Peggy. I even cut her hair once, but she still looked beautiful – at least to me.

Soon, one of Peggy’s legs became loose, and one day it slid out of the socket. This was an emergency. Dad could fix anything, so I rushed Peggy to my dad. He studied the situation, then drilled a hole in Peggy’s leg and put a bolt through it. I wasn’t happy about the "operation," but it worked.

Dad worked full time, had a garden and hobby farm, and he and Mom raised five children. He was a busy man, yet he took the time to mend a little girl’s doll.

I still get a lump in my throat when I see Peggy with that bolt in her leg, and think of her being lovingly repaired by Dad. He took a devastating moment and turned it into a precious memory.

Helen - Belle Plaine, Minnesota

 

‘Spanking’ Turned Out to Be a Good Thing

It was 1931, and I was an elated 5-year-old. Mother had just finished sewing me a new dress, and new clothes were few and far between back then. The colorful, floral-printed dress with its tiered, ruffled skirt made me feel like a princess. I strutted and danced around in the dress, mimicking my favorite child movie star, Shirley Temple.

Our house was heated with a free-standing gas stove, but in those days, houses weren’t insulated, so even with the stove going, the house was still drafty. While wearing my new dress, I backed up to the heating stove to warm my backside.

I was basking in the warmth of the stove when Mother entered the room. She took one look at me, then grabbed me and started spanking my behind. Now, there had been times I’d been naughty and hadn’t been caught, but this time, I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, so I couldn’t figure out why I was getting a spanking.

My feelings were hurt more than my behind, where the swats were applied. I tried to be a big girl and not cry, but by the time Mother stopped spanking me, tears had welled up in my eyes, and my mouth and chin were quivering. When Mother saw the expression on my face, she gave me a big hug, which really confused me. Then she explained that she hadn’t been spanking me at all. She had simply put out a fire in the ruffles of my dress. I had apparently backed too close to the stove, and, fortunately, Mother had entered the room just as the back of my dress burst into flames.

My beautiful new dress was ruined, but I wasn’t injured. After learning about the fire, I realized that the "spanking" I had received was definitely a blessing in disguise.

Roxie - Sheridan, Wyoming

 

Gained New Independence Learning to Drive

Back in the day, most families could afford only one car, and the man usually did all the driving. My husband and I were no different. However, when he passed away, I had to go to work.

Living in the country, I wasn’t able to walk to work, and I didn’t know how to drive. To make matters worse, I was afraid to learn to drive. A neighbor was kind enough to let me ride with him until he retired, at which time I moved to town and changed jobs so I was within walking distance.

Then one day, my aunt said she was going to take driver’s training, so I decided to take it, too. I was in my 50s, and my children coached me and took me driving on the weekends. We both passed our tests and received our licenses.

More than 30 years later, I am still driving, although I did retire seven years ago. Learning to drive, although it was something that was forced upon me and something I never wanted to do, has proven to be a huge blessing.

Monnie - Lillington, North Carolina

 

Jalopy Car was a Blessing

As a typical know-it-all 16-year-old male, I was eager to get a car, yet I refused to tap the wealth of knowledge that was my dad. The man knew vehicles. Self-employed as an air-conditioning/heating technician, he logged thousands of miles in his Chevrolet pickup, and as the father of eight, he put thousands of miles on our Chevrolet station wagon. He took care of both vehicles with regular tune-ups at his favorite service station, Circleville Oil.

When I started looking at cars, Dad’s only advice came in the form of a terse sentence: "I’ll pay for half, as long as you buy something practical."

I bought a used 1975 lemon-yellow MG Midget sports car. Dad didn’t pay half, but instead gave my car the sarcastic nickname of "The Spitfire Pilot," because every drive in my Midget was an adventure.

A trip to the high school turned into a phone call from a farmer’s home asking Circleville Oil for a tow. Driving into town to play tennis resulted in a call from a pay phone asking Circleville Oil for a tow. Still, I refused to let go of my baby.

Then an eerie foreshadowing came one summer afternoon. I ran out to the Midget, hopped in, inserted the key, turned the ignition and heard the whistling sound of a falling bomb. After a small bang, white smoke began rolling out from under the hood. I abandoned my Midget and stood there in the driveway, clueless. It was then Dad appeared, laughing hysterically. He opened the hood and removed some gizmo he had bought earlier in the day as a joke.

That autumn, my beloved Midget blew a rod through the side of the engine, and, unable to afford a new engine, I had the car towed to a junkyard. I was devastated.

However, it turned out to be a blessing. My next car was a good ol’ American-made Chevrolet Vega. The Vega was hardly the pride of Chevrolet’s fleet, but I didn’t care. I had my Vega for six years, and not once did I feel like a "Spitfire Pilot."

John - Hilton Head, South Carolina

 

Time Brought Understanding

At the time, I didn’t consider our tragedy a blessing. However, a few years later, I began to understand.

My husband and I were expecting our first child. I was about three months pregnant, and I had already given our child a nickname.

Early that summer, I went to the doctor in the town where we lived with symptoms I felt could endanger the life of our child. The doctor examined me, then said, "Some babies are just not meant to be." He admitted me to the hospital and encouraged me to walk up and down the hallways. After several days, the doctor released me even though I was still hemorrhaging lightly. I lost my baby two days later.

I loved my baby from the moment I found out I was pregnant. I had always taken great pride in being a tough Kansas farm girl. However, now I was devastated. This tough farm girl wasn’t even strong enough to carry a child to full term.

A year later, I found out I was pregnant again, and again I began hemorrhaging severely in the third month. Luckily, I was back home visiting my parents when it happened, and they rushed me to our old family doctor. In no time, I was admitted to the hospital and was instructed to stay in bed with my feet elevated. No sitting up or getting up – period. Just complete bed rest.

When I was finally released from the hospital, I was ordered to go home and stay in bed for another week. I was allowed to get up to eat and use the restroom, but that was all. The rest of the time I was to rest.

Thanks to my doctor’s strict orders, I was able to deliver a healthy baby boy a few months later.

Two years after that, our son became a big brother to another healthy baby boy. The younger one and I have a lot in common. We both like to read, and we enjoy browsing in the same shops. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without my second child, and yet, he isn’t my second child, he’s my third child.

When we got married, my husband and I planned to have two children. If I hadn’t lost my first baby, whom I lovingly nicknamed Junebug, I would never have known the joy of being Joel’s mother.

God knew what He was doing when He took away my first child. By doing so, we then had room in our family for the third one. Now I know it was a blessing in disguise.

Mary - Moberly, Missouri

 

Special Boy Brought Love and Laughter to Everyone Who Knew Him

Our first child, Rudy, was born in 1953 with osteogenesis imperfecta, better known as brittle bone disease. Because he was born with 18 broken bones, we weren’t sure Rudy would live, but he did. He came home a month later, and he had several broken bones during the first year of his life.

When Rudy started school, he was in a wheelchair. He continued to have broken bones and was frequently in traction. He had surgeries in which rods were put in his legs to help, but they were unsuccessful. He never complained, even though he was in pain much of the time. He usually had a smile and a silly joke to tell. A young boy once asked Rudy why he had braces on his legs, and Rudy replied that they were to give him straight teeth, then he showed the boy his teeth. Rudy never wanted sympathy.

I often became discouraged when Rudy broke a leg after just getting out of traction, but he always assured me that it would get better some day. He taught me to accept what life had to offer and not to complain.

Rudy had learned to swim and loved to go swimming at the city pool. He came home one day and told us he had saved a boy from drowning. Apparently the child had jumped into the pool before his father was ready. Rudy was quite proud of himself.

Being a baseball fan and never at a loss for words, Rudy often helped the announcers at local baseball games. A week after turning 13, Rudy and his dad went to a game, and, since the announcer’s box was locked, they sat in the bleachers.

A foul ball hit the light post behind him, bounced, then hit Rudy in the head. What would have resulted in a headache and a bump on the head for most people, unfortunately, crushed the fragile bones in Rudy’s head, and he died two days later.

His funeral service was held at the local high school auditorium, and the place was nearly full. When asked if anyone would like to say a few words about Rudy, one woman told the story of how she had witnessed Rudy’s lifesaving incident at the pool a few years earlier.

It was truly a blessing to have had Rudy in our lives for 13 wonderful years, even though he endured 52 broken bones
during those years, and I know that he, too, considered it a blessing to be alive, because he enjoyed life to the fullest.

I feel fortunate to have been trusted with one of God’s special needs children, and I know that Rudy is in Heaven now, still smiling and spreading cheer.

Barbara - St. John, Kansas

 

Being Poor Made Us Rich

Growing up in western Oklahoma, my two sisters and I were happy and content. We had no idea our family was poor, but,
looking back, being poor was a blessing in disguise because it made us appreciative.

We had heard of the Great Depression, and we knew there were many people out of jobs. Many people didn’t have enough to eat, and there were newspaper reports of people standing in line for a bowl of soup or a sandwich, which were often handed out by churches or hospital kitchens.

We lived on a farm, and, while our parents struggled to provide for our family, we were never hungry. Mother planted a huge vegetable garden, and Dad followed a team of horses and a plow in the fields.

Our garden consisted of green beans, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, radishes and peas, and Dad planted several rows of sweet corn in the field. We had no running water, and if it didn’t rain, which was most of the time in Oklahoma, our mother would carry buckets of water from the windmill to the garden. Then, when the vegetables were ready to be harvested, Mother would stand over a hot stove in the kitchen of our house, which, of course, was not air-conditioned, for many hours as she canned all the vegetables.

We also had large fruit orchards with peach, cherry and apricot trees. These canned fruits were a special treat during the cold winter months.

Mother was especially proud of the chickens she raised. Summer meals were not complete without a platter of delicious fried chicken. Then, during the winter, we feasted on baked hen with homemade noodles or dumplings.

After gathering the eggs from under the hens, we would keep what we needed, then take the rest to town, where we would trade them for the few groceries we didn’t raise. The same was true of the cream we got from our milk cows. The cream was created by turning an old-fashioned separator that stood in one corner of our kitchen. The milk came out one spout, and the cream came out the other.

During the winter months, Dad usually butchered a cow or hog, and we would have plenty of meat to last throughout the year. My mother even had a method for canning the beef, which was quite tasty on cold winter evenings.

When her other chores were done, Mother would work busily at her trusty sewing machine. We would hear the treadle moving long into the night as she made clothing for our family, including our undergarments. In fact, the only items not homemade were our shoes and socks. I don’t remember Mother using a pattern to make our dresses unless it was one cut from newspapers and held against us to see if it would be a proper fit. Many times we found a picture in a magazine or catalog, and Mother copied it.

Our in-town friends had electricity and indoor plumbing, but we were perfectly happy without those luxuries. Those were happy days.

Bernadine - Spokane Valley, Washington

 

Car’s High Price Tag Allowed Husband to Find Better Deal

Several years ago, when my husband was looking for a newer used car, he found the one he wanted at a nearby car dealership. However, when we talked to a salesman, the price he quoted us was more than my husband wanted to pay.

Not long afterward, we were driving to a nearby city to do some shopping, and we came upon a dealership. We stopped to see what they had, and imagine our surprise when we found the exact color and model of car my husband had looked at before, but at a much better asking price.

The salesman worked with us to give us the best deal possible, and we actually ended up buying not only a car for my husband, but also a car for our daughter, who was in college.

Six years later, we still have both cars, and they are both running well.

I guess the old saying "Good things come to those who wait" really is true. We are thankful to God for the everyday blessings He gives us and for the wonderful way He continually provides for us.

Shelly - Auburn, Kansas


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