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Stolen Identities, A Bunch of Bruises, Two Smashed Fingers, and a Sticky Door

In a text this week, a sweet friend wrote:

“I feel like 2021 has been worse than 2020. At least in 2020 everyone got to stay home by themselves. Now we’re all struggling WHILE expected to go to work!”

Of course, this comment was tongue-in-cheek, but in many ways, I’m thinking 2021 is 2020’s evil twin.

 

When I began to dedicate myself to weekly blogging, I decided to write about things I know; experiences, both good and bad, and lessons learned. The one thing that concerns me about this effort is by sharing the ups and downs of life, I sound like I’m complaining. I’m sure after reading about my antics and some of the things that have happened of late, you might be thinking to yourself, “Bless her heart,” which in the South, sometimes translates into the idea that the person you’re blessing has gotten herself in a “self-imposed pickle.” In other words, the state or difficulty the person is in is of their own making…

I admit, many times the calamities of which I write are caused by my own carelessness. I tend to get in a hurry, and in an effort to check off my to-do list, make errors. And then I spend a great deal of time beating myself up over the carelessness in which I acted. At times, I wonder, “Is it just me?” or “Do these things happen to other people?”

I know life is hard, and as John Wayne stated, “it’s harder when you’re stupid.” I’m not bashing my intellect or that of others who seem to bungle things up. I firmly believe that some of our problems occur because the poor choices of others can have an impact or effect on us. Many times our own mistakes lead to trying times, but sometimes the headaches and/or heartaches we endure are due to other people’s negligence, or to be blunt, their decision to play fast and loose with the rules of society.

And that’s where this week’s blog will finally begin…

As I blundered through the end of March, I seemed to be testing the age-old weather phrase that “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” March had already been a difficult month with the unexpected loss of our sweet family’s dog, Marlie. Preceding that event (several days before) was the unexpected loss of a filling in my tooth! In fact, as I was talking with friends before work, it just plunked out into my mouth! And I’m almost positive this filling had been a part of me since the Carter Administration.

I called the dentist, and was given a temporary crown. Just a typical Wednesday in my life…

When our trip to San Antonio at the beginning of Spring Break ended up being a heartbreaking experience, I thought surely to goodness, we had weathered the worst of things…

But I was wrong.

I’ve mentioned before about our front door needing to be replaced due to the scratches and scars from Marlie’s days as a squirrel hunter. We decided that would be our Spring Break project. We had searched and contemplated door styles for several months and finally decided on one we liked. We found it at a Home Outlet store in Tyler, and I ordered it online. Easy Peasy.

We were scheduled to pick it up on Saturday (a week after Spring Break ended). The process was easy. I went inside and paid for the door, and by the time I was done, the double French-style doors were loaded in the back of Brian’s truck. We had seized the day, all before 10:00 AM.

But here’s where it got sticky…

We arrived home, and Brian backed the truck onto the sidewalk in front of our house, making unloading the doors a little less difficult as far as the distance in which we would have to go. As he looked at the doors, and then looked at me, I could tell that Brian was wishing he had married someone who was stronger and taller than my five feet, zero inch self. I honestly hadn’t thought about unloading the doors. I was already thinking about the perfect color I had selected to paint them.

I will spare you all the details about the unloading of the doors. Suffice it to say, I have two large 50 cent piece sized bruises on my left arm, and multiple bruising on my legs. I look like an over-ripe banana that has been forgotten in a first grader’s lunch box.

FYI: (Before writing this blog, I researched the doors and discovered they weighed 170 pounds. They were 71 inches wide and 79.5 inches wide).

I am happy to report we did get them unloaded, just before realizing I had ordered the wrong door size.

Yep, you can’t make it up.

I called the store, and asked if we could return these doors for the size I originally intended. The person on the other end of the phone replied, “You ordered the doors online. It’s not our fault that you ordered the wrong one.”

I honestly couldn’t believe my ears! I had already shed some tears over my huge 170 pound mistake, and this curt and rude response was all it took to make the waterworks start to flow.

Before I wailed into the phone and gave the man “what for”, he quipped, “I’m just kidding! Of course we’ll take them back, and we have the size you need.”

It was the un-funniest kidding I’ve ever endured in my life. I think when he heard my quivering voice he knew his joke had fallen flat.  I will add that the customer service throughout the ordeal was excellent (except for the wanna-be-comedian who answered the phone).

Again, I’ll spare you the details, but we managed to get the doors loaded back into the truck (and I impressed the entire neighborhood when I placed my left foot on the side-step, and my right on the back tire, and hoisted myself into the bed of the truck). If there were an Olympic Event for such a feat, I would have without a doubt won a gold medal.

When we arrived home with the second set of doors, we had a few hiccups along the way. Too many to mention, really, but the main issue was the door was “sticking” a bit when we tried to open it. After getting two fingers smashed in the door when he was trying to make adjustments and I too eagerly began testing it out before his fingers could be withdrawn, Brian was able to correct the problem, and we now have brand new doors painted in Festoon Aqua. (And yes, the smashing of the fingers led to another festival of tears from me…)

Monday morning came around, and after the energy we had exerted over the weekend, our real jobs would seem like a vacation.

Except I awakened to a wicked case of hives on my neck. I remember the night before, as I was going through my night-time facial regimen, when I put night cream on my neck it burned. We had spent a great deal of time outside, and I thought maybe I had a slight sunburn. But in the wee hours of Monday morning, I realized it was much more.

I went to work, where my appearance startled my co-workers, and probably horrified a few students. During lunch, I drove to Walgreen’s and purchased Benadryl and some cream with the hope of wiping out the hives, which I was certain were caused by stress.

When I arrived back to work, I had a message on my phone from the Business Manager at school. I tried calling back, but she was still at lunch. I decided I would walk over to the Admin Building and try to catch her in person.

And that’s when I discovered that some person named Joann had attempted to claim unemployment benefits from the school using some of my information. Thankfully, the hives didn’t spread over the rest of my body when I was made aware of the situation. I wearily walked back to my office where I made a “fraud claim” with the Texas Workforce Commission. During this process, I realized I needed a copy of the letter the school district had received.

When I walked back into the Administration Building, I stated in a most serious tone, “You know, Joann can have my identity! I’ve decided I don’t want to be ME anymore!”

Of course, this elicited laughter from the others, but a small part of me meant it! I was tired. Completely overwhelmed and tired. And I couldn’t help but wonder, Why do things always happen to me? I have always been vigilant about the safety and security of my personal information. Apparently, it’s not an uncommon thing since there is a fraud line just for such antics, but that didn’t make me feel better.

After safeguarding my credit with the three major credit bureaus, and sending in the report to the Texas Workforce Commission and FTC, I decided I can’t worry about it anymore. I’ve done what I could do. And to quote a dear friend and former student, “It’s time to go to Lowe’s, buy some lumber, build a bridge, and get over it.”

It’s Monday, a week after my hives, and I’m happy to announce that my neck is cleared up. I still have the remnants of bruises, but they’ve gone from black and blue to a lovely yellowish green stage. Brian’s fingers are still a little bruised where the door smashed them, and I’m enjoying my new life as Joann—-Just kidding.

As I’ve pondered and searched for lessons and insight, and as I’ve tried to look beyond the pain and irritations and sadness of late, I’ve come to realize this:

It’s not about sticky doors, and stolen identities, or smashed fingers, and a bunch of bruises.

It’s about three nails. Three nails that He took for me…

My identity isn’t found in who I am. It’s found in who is in me.

Joann F. might have tried to steal some numbers and information that represent me, but she can never take away my identity which is found through Jesus Christ.

Bruises, and hives, and smashed fingers, and losing pets, and doors that seemed to be closed are all things that we must endure here on Earth, but when our identity is found in Jesus, we are guaranteed everlasting life. And all the things on earth that get on our nerves, and bring us down, and make us wonder “Why me, Lord?” will disappear, as we are in the presence and glory of God.

As I look around in the midst of these irritations and struggles I’m reminded of the beauty that surrounds me. The hives were a by-product of pollen which is necessary in creating the fabulous flowers of Spring. The door catastrophe is a reminder that when we try to carry things alone, they are always too heavy. The bruises are reminders of hard work and persistence, and the attempted identity theft is a reminder that even if someone impersonates me through fake documents,  God always knows who I am. I am His and He is mine.

Even with the hard times, and the inconveniences and irritations that life dishes out, I know in my heart without a doubt, who I belong to. I know that He will carry me when times are tough and heavy. And I am gratefully and humbly reminded that “With his stripes, we are healed.”

Yesterday, as we celebrated Easter and Our Risen Savior, I was reminded of all this day represents.

A new beginning; new life; new hope.

And all these things were personally witnessed as we went to church and then out to eat at the Fredonia Hotel, which held their annual Easter Dinner/Buffet. Easter was the first day my mom had been in church in a year. She reunited with friends, and hugs were exchanged, and hope was renewed. She again saw many friends at lunch and the theme was the same: We have survived, and we are going to carry on. There was such a feeling of freedom and resilience among this older generation as they looked ahead to better days.

And today, I too carry that hope as I look toward Friday—-when my sweet Cooper will be a year old.

I am thankful for those 39 stripes, and the stone being rolled away. I’m so happy that on the Fridays of our life, we know that Sunday is coming.  I’m thankful I’ve gone from a temporary crown to the real thing—-(so start practicing your curtsy for the next time we meet!)

I’m forever grateful for doors that open, and the bright colors of spring, and the hope we have for the future.

And I’m so very, very blessed to have my sweet little Cooper. He’s been the brightest spot in a very tough year and when I look into those big, beautiful eyes, I know in my heart, it’s truly a “One-derful Life!”

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Update on the “almost finished project”…

(We still need to touch up the accent color above the door and also the white trim).

As much as I love the “almost finished product”, I love seeing Lorelai looking out the front door even more 🙂

 

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