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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Comedy of Errors (not about the play) (08/18/11)

TITLE: Then and Now
By Leola Ogle


Summer of 1983 and we were on a road trip, tightly packed into Tammy’s little car. My son, typical male, balked, then wisely chose not to travel in one car with so many females.

My oldest, Tammy, still a teen with a husband in the Air Force, her baby Ethan, myself and three other daughters were excited to be attending the Assemblies of God General Council in California, although we could only make the last night’s service.

Arriving in Anaheim after lunch, we joined our pastors, the Owens and Browns, at their hotel. The men would attend the afternoon business session while we women and children went to the beach.

After sun, sand, and surf, we made plans to meet later at the Anaheim Convention Center before we drove to our motel was several miles away.

To my dismay, our suite had only one bathroom. It would take ingenuity to get six people bathed and ready. I began barking instructions: “Three minutes each in the shower. Oh, no! Do NOT give me the rolling eyes! Get moving or we’ll be late!”

Things proceeded smoothly until I went to get dressed and discovered our dresses were nowhere to be found.

“Where’s the garment bag with our dresses?” My frantic eyes swept the room.

My question produced shrugging shoulders, sideways glances, and mumbling. My eyes widened.

“Did anyone grab it from the Owens’ room?” It had mistakenly been taken into their hotel instead of the bag containing our swimsuits.

I covered my mouth before a shriek could escape. “Tammy, you have to get our dresses! HURRY!”

I felt faint. This can’t be happening! Everyone…WOMEN…really dress up for these events. Without the dresses, we only had jeans or shorts! Neither would do! Tammy drove off while I held Ethan and nervously paced.

Denise and Heather had packed dresses in suitcases, so they were ready. Stephanie and I waited in our undergarments.

The clock ticked on. “What’s taking Tammy so long?” Glancing out the curtain, I squealed, “What’s she doing? This isn’t the time to be talking with some man in the parking lot!”

Sticking my head out the door, I shouted, “Tammy!” In she came, sniffling and crying. “I was pulling in and that man was pulling out. We hit each other. My bumper’s dented!”

“Dented? Where are the dresses?” Her car was of secondary importance at the moment.

Wiping her nose, she mumbled, “Everyone was gone.”

I froze! General Council and we had no dresses! What would people think? “Denise, I need your dress. You girls wear your jeans. We’ll have to sit in the back and hope no one we know sees us.”

I couldn’t believe how thrilled they looked. I felt betrayed by their delighted grins. Didn’t they understand the gravity of the situation?

I dressed, glanced in the mirror and groaned. The waist of my twelve-year-old’s dress was too high on me, and she hadn’t brought the belt. Huge loops stuck out, screaming, “Look, I have no belt!” And how could five females not have scissors or clippers? Unless someone got under my armpits and gnawed, the belt loops stayed.

Furthermore, fuchsia definitely wasn’t my color!

So much for hoping we wouldn’t see anyone we knew. After arriving at the Convention Center, we immediately ran into two minister’s families from Arizona. With thousands of people from all over the world, what were the chances?

We continued to encounter Arizonans. Each time, I felt the compulsion to explain our wardrobe. Later I realized their amused smiles weren’t because of our attire, but because of my rambling explanations. No one really cared what we were wearing.

We made our way to the back of the overflow area. Wouldn’t you know; up the aisle came the Happy Goodmans, smiling sweetly, shaking hands. Then I spotted Dino Kartsonakis and Jim Bakker. If Tammy Faye would’ve come walking up, I’d have crawled under my chair.

Twenty-eight years later, summer of 2011, General Council was held in Phoenix, my second ever to attend. Casual attire is now the trend. As in 1983, nobody gave a second glance to what I wore. How foolish we are when we place such significance on the unimportant!

This time, I soaked in God’s presence, savoring His word going forth, overwhelmed by how blessed I am. Ironically, in my home state, I bumped into very few of my Arizona friends.

God definitely has a sense of humor.

**True story with group photo of that 1983 night to remind me.

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This article has been read 509 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 08/25/11
Oh my heavens, I was smiling so broadly at your description of you in your daughter's dress! However, the ending rings true, God does not care what we wear, or how we look, he only looks at our heart and devotion to Him. Good story, I bet that photo makes you smile every time! God Bless~
Cheryl von Drehle08/26/11
This is a fun story to which readers can easily relate; and an excellent example of a teachable moment. As a reader I was distracted by all the detail (“back story.”) I think if you omit some of the irrelevant detail it will pick up the pace and make your point really pop. Great job though, and a good rendering for the weekly topic.
Danielle King 08/27/11
Oh I was with you all the way here. I felt the panic rising in me when the posh frocks couldn't be found. It's definitely a 'girl thing.' A fun story with a good message. Well done!

Noel Mitaxa 08/27/11
How sad that you were once so distracted by "material" things - TSK TSK - but times have truly changed.
I enjoyed the gentle self-mocking tone of your MC.
Tom Parsons 08/28/11
I don't think it is just a "girl" thing. I remember when I was a young pastor attending a conference and not wearing a tie. I was embarrassed; others seemed not to care.

Good story.
Linda Goergen09/01/11
Congratulations on your well deserved second place win!!! Your story was so well written and I think most women could relate to the emotion of realizing you don’t have your dress! You did better than me, I probably would not have gone! Which makes your message even more relevant to me, as it is so true I know I get caught up in things that seems so important to me but are so insignificant to God! Just a great story and message, so well written!
C D Swanson 09/02/11
I really loved this story, I am so glad to see it earned a win! It was one of my favorites...Congratulations and God Bless you~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/09/11
This was a delightful read. I had several vivid pictures in my brain. (I'm sure you love that!) Thanks for the giggles and the great message.