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Humor occurs in odd places and situations. I believe it is God’s way of reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously. We are, after all, made from dust. Everything that we accomplish is through God’s wondrous grace.
So when I was all packed and ready for my trip to Los Angeles to receive Best Romance award for my novel The Promise of Deer Run at the LA Book Festival, God’s humor was on the verge of a humbling display. The hilarity of it all was not lost on this frequently-humbled author.
Everything was nearly packed the night before I left, but my wardrobe lacked one item: My favorite cotton purple sweater. Now there’s a smart thing to wear in much-warmer Southern California, I thought. No problem—except I had left the sweater at a radio station where I had been interviewed months before.
Arranging for hubby to pick up the sweater on his way home from work, I gratefully grabbed my garment and took a quick look. Appeared to be nice and clean. What I had forgotten was that my husband had taken the dog to the groomer in his car a few weeks prior. Apparently our Corgi was, shall we say, odorific.
Everything went pretty well, until I reached my connection in Minneapolis. Rushing from one end of the airport to another to catch my next flight, I sank gratefully into the chair, warmed all over by the quick pace. Suddenly I smelled something.
Did I forget my deodorant? I panicked. A quick run to the restroom assured me I had not. But a sniff test on the purple sweater told me the source. It stunk like a dog.
Doing my best to decrease my body heat—the warmer I was, the more it smelled—I smothered scented hand cream on my hands and arms.
Maybe that will cover it up?
It was time to board and the smiling airline rep that took my boarding pass heard a special sound on her machine. “Oh! You’ve been upgraded to First Class,” she said in her most cheerful voice.
Great. Now I get to stink up first class. “Thanks,” I replied, praying her nose might be temporarily plugged up.
Skulking down the ramp toward my jet, I devised a plan. I would take off the outer sweater and stash it. Seeing my poor row partner already seated I smiled and very carefully removed my outer sweater. Did I imagine it or was he plastered as far to the side as was possible without climbing out the six-inch by nine-inch window?
As I removed the sweater, I realized I now had another problem. My turtleneck was far shorter than I desired. If it slid up an inch or so, my residual “muffin” of fat above my jeans—still clinging to life even after a month on the elliptical—would likely frighten to death this First Class bunch on their way to Liposuction Land.
Oh well. It’s easier to close one’s eyes than one’s nose.
I sighed. I figured at least I knew revival skills from my nursing days if anyone passed out.
Finally arriving in Southern California, I made arrangements with my daughter-in-law to wash my sweater “forthwith” as they would say in Colonial America.
But this was not the end of humility. Finally arriving at the award ceremony in Hollywood on Saturday evening, I was handed the program listing all the winners, runners up, and honorable mentions. Although my book won first place, it was listed in the program as “Runner Up.” I suddenly felt like the Miss America second best that was hoping for the crown but saw it placed on someone else’s head. Sigh.
I had to laugh. I felt God poking me in the ribs ever so gently with His humorous touch, reminding me of my place in this universe.
* * *
My favorite “humility story” since receiving this honor was a conversation with my elderly, hard-of-hearing Mom on the phone the day after the announcement. It went something like this:
Me: Mom, I won first place for my book, The Promise of Deer Run! I get to go to LA!
Mom: Which book?
Me: The Promise of Deer Run
Mom: The second one?
Mom: And you won third place? That’s great.
Me: No, Mom, I won First Place.
Mom: You won third place. Well, that is pretty good!
SIGH Nothing like a mom to keep one humble!
* * *
But, third place, first place or NO place, no matter the kudos from others, the best part in life is not the awards given to us, but the people that we love, who are there for us. They are always rooting for us. These treasured folks are what make life worthwhile. And I am the most grateful for these precious loved ones in my life.
They’ll even love me in a stinky sweater. 🙂
Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of the Deer Run Saga: The Road to Deer Run, The Promise of Deer Run, and the soon-to-be-released, The Legacy of Deer Run; she is also a contributing writer to Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson. Find out more at her blog, Reflections In Hindsight.