by Karen Howington
I love movie popcorn. It’s just different from the kind you can buy in the store. And I wanted some last week. One day, my neighbor called to ask if I wanted to run an errand with her. I said I did and also mentioned that I wanted some movie popcorn. She said sure, let’s go! But what she didn’t realize was that I wanted to drive all the way across town to the theater to get it. She thought I meant the grocery store. So, I didn’t get my popcorn that day. I vowed to procure my craving the next day when I was in that part of town after a doctor’s appointment.
And what happened after said appointment? I totally forgot to get my popcorn until I was about home, which was ten miles away. So, another day passed without a morsel of that buttery goodness passing through my lips. But it turns out that I would pass by another theater when I drove to my mom’s house in Monroe, Louisiana the next day.
History seemed to repeat itself that next day. Although I didn’t forget this time, when I took the exit that was closest to the theater, I was in the lane farthest from where I needed to be and the traffic was heavy. Therefore, I filed it in the back of my mind to return the next day. Ah well, I thought to myself. I had Peanut Pal, the wonder rescue mutt, with me (I never go to Monroe without her) and I couldn’t leave her in the car in 95 degree weather. My plan was to put her on a leash and pass her off as a service dog. Hey, don’t knock it. If you really, really wanted one of your favorite treats and all that stood between you and that delicious food was a dog, you might do that too. So the next day came and went without a thought of popcorn. In fact, it was Sunday before I even thought about popcorn again.
But my Heavenly Father did not forget. That Sunday, we attended the church that our parents all go to. And what did my nose smell when I walked into the doors that day? You guessed it, POPCORN! And it wasn’t just any popcorn, it was MOVIE POPCORN.
It was then that the Holy Spirit gently imparted to me a lesson. You see, I am a writer and have been published once, in an online magazine in Wyoming, where I lived for a few years. God has birthed a dream in my heart to write at least two memoirs, one of live in Wyoming from a southerner’s point of view, and the other of being a pharmacist and former drug addict who was addicted to prescription drugs. And any writer naturally would want their tomes to be best sellers, and I am no exception. But my finite mind cannot see how that could possibly happen. How do you get from point A, writing a book, to point B, getting it published, to point Z, having it become a New York Times bestseller? (well, one CAN dream, right?) My limited fleshly vision just cannot see that far and certainly can’t make out which roads to take along the way. But God whispered to my heart, “You really wanted some movie popcorn, didn’t you? But three different times, you had planned to get some, and each time you failed. And what did I provide for you today? That’s right, movie popcorn. In addition to that, I did it in a way that you had no idea even existed. What were the odds that church would be serving popcorn today? When you entered the church, your nose immediately smelled that buttery goodness (they had a popcorn maker in the common area, trying to attract members to volunteer in the kid’s department). If I am concerned about such a small thing as satisfying your appetite for a treat, how much more will I bring to pass the dream that I myself have placed in you? I never lead you somewhere that I don’t equip you to handle. You may not have all the answers or the exact road map of how to get there right now, but you have in you a talent for writing that I gave you and an amazing testimony that you will use to help others. So fear not, my child. Just write and listen for my still, small voice directing you along the way and watch for little bread crumbs (or popcorn kernels?) that I will drop on the path to encourage you as you move towards your destiny in the literary world. I will show in the way you should go, and you need to leave the details to me.”
As I look back on my 54 years around the sun, there are countless stories I can recall when things looked so bleak and there was just enough light for the step I was on, but no farther. I had to make baby steps as God directed me, not knowing what was around the proverbial corner. Once, it was nine months of not being able to find a job. But I wouldn’t trade that uncertain time for nothing! During that time, God “placed me on a shelf” and taught me about waiting on Him. Isaiah 40:31 is a favorite verse of mine; “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”. My strength was renewed during that dry time, I was as an eagle who flew above my circumstances, and I did not grow weary or faint. After those nine months, my sister bought a plane ticket for me to fly to Riverton, Wyoming, where she and her family lived. She knew I was depressed about my employment (or lack of employment) situation, and wanted to do something to lift my spirits.
When I arrived in that small western town, I was amazed at the beauty. When they first moved up there, my southern brain couldn’t figure out WHY. I thought, what in the world is there to do up there? Well, boy, did I find out the minute I stepped off the plane onto Wyoming soil. Mountains, which I love, surrounded this little town. As I sat on her back porch, with the snow-capped Wind River range in the backdrop, I was immediately a little jealous that this was her daily view. To me, it was like living a vacation every day. Where I lived in Louisiana, there were only flat landscapes. Back in that flat land the next week, I looked online for pharmacist jobs in that little place that stole my heart. Much to my surprise, there was an opening there at Kmart Pharmacy! I quickly applied and God threw that door wide open! I accepted the job, and we moved to that spot on the map with a population of 10,000 souls. Now there were 10,002 plus one more dog. And the icing on the cake? We bought a house five minutes away from her, and had the same breathtaking view of the mountains.
Three and a half years later, God suddenly shut that door. Kmart was permanently closing, and I could not find another job there. There weren’t many pharmacies and none were hiring. Once again, I had just enough light for the step I was on. We moved back to Louisiana blindly, with no job waiting for us there (being a pharmacist in recovery from addiction did not help my search). But God had a plan; He always does if we will just trust Him. Well, this move required a huge leap of faith, because my husband was having a hard time finding a job in his particular field of work in Louisiana. Again, we waited on God to open the next door. Since our parents both lived in Louisiana, we stayed with them while job hunting. Eventually, both of us found gainful employment. The verse from Proverbs 3:6 says “… in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” He did make our path straight to Louisiana, and provided jobs for us there.
My mother calls little divine messages “kisses from God”. And, oh, how I felt His lips gently kiss my cheek as He imparted that message about popcorn to me. He had shown us the way when we had to leave Wyoming, and I knew He would do the same in my quest to publish a book. So, instead of popcorn, perhaps next I will get the hankering for a large white birthday cake with white icing (my favorite bakery delight). As long as I am dreaming, why not dream big?
Karen Howington, otherwise known as the Southern Belle Writer, is a long time southerner from the Bayou State, otherwise known as Louisiana. She is an educated drug dealer (pharmacist), dog lover, Christian, hiker, mom, wife, and doesn’t take herself too seriously (and neither do others J). She has had one article published in an online magazine in Wyoming, and hopes to have many more in the very near future!