Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bad things now come in more than threes

Two days before Christmas we came home from Luxor and checked our email only to find that we had been bombarded with a slew of emails from informing us that we had a series of overdraft charges and ATM fees, mainly from Hallandale, Florida.

Merry Christmas to us.

Andrew got on the phone with our bank right away and had them cancel our debit card and explained that we were in Egypt, not Florida, and that we hadn’t been the ones to purchase nearly two-thousand dollars worth of booze, gasoline, and McDonald’s meals in a short four-day spree.

While Andrew worked on the paperwork to reverse the charges I worked on finishing our Christmas Newsletter and posted it to the blog just after midnight.

One day before Christmas we dubbed Karen tour guide and she took Reid and Jacob to the Egyptian Museum, via the metro, by herself. We couldn’t be prouder!

Rachel, Miriam, and I were all having another sick day so Andrew stayed home to take care of us. We decided to bake cookies. I looked up a fabulous recipe for gingersnaps online and then sat down to nurse Miriam while Andrew and Rachel went into the kitchen to start the cookies.

I’m always in charge of creaming the butter. Andrew grew up using a Bosch mixer. I grew up using a fork. And I’m amazing a creaming butter by hand. Andrew? Not so much.

So after Miriam was satisfied I went into the kitchen and creamed the butter. With a fork, like I always do. And then I said,

“Okay, how much sugar do I need?”

And he said, “I already put in the sugar.”

And I said, “What? Where?”

He pointed to the bowl of dry ingredients that he was whisking together.

“You mixed the sugar with the flour?! How am I supposed to ‘cream together butter and sugar’ now?”

“I don’t know. I was just going in order… Is it important to cream the butter and sugar together?”

“Have you ever even made cookies before?!”

“Well, yeah, but…it says flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, butter—which I skipped so that you could cream it—sugar… I was just going in order.”

“Did you read the directions?”

“No. I was just going in order. Is that wrong?”

“Yes, that’s wrong. You have to follow the directions. And directions for cookies usually start with ‘cream together butter and sugar.’”

“Oh. I guess we’re lucky I didn’t add the egg yet. That was next on the list.”

After thinking for a minute I decided that we could solve our little dilemma by doubling the recipe. I would cream half the amount of sugar into double the amount of butter and then we’d just double everything else as well.

The cookies turned out perfectly, except for the ones that burned.

In between batches I started getting ready to email our Christmas Newsletter out to our family and friends. I went to check on a batch and then came back to the computer to compose a message.

Alas, the internet was down.

“Hey, Andrew, did you reset the router?”

“No. Is the internet down?”


“That’s weird.”

We had no dial tone on our landline, either.

Come to find out we were delinquent in the payment for our phone bill. Lest you think we’re simply irresponsible (our irresponsibility is more of the complicated variety) we don’t ever get a physical bill to remind us to pay our phone bill. We’re supposed to magically sense when it’s due and usually the magic only happens when our phone line goes dead and then we remember, “Oh, yeah. We’re supposed to pay for this.”

It’s never been quite this dead, though. They cut it off in waves: first outgoing privileges are removed, and then incoming calls. After that, apparently, is the internet.

This tells you how often we use our landline. We had no clue our phone privileges had been removed until the internet went dead.

Andrew went to the Telecom office by our house, and to one of the main offices farther away to pay our bills, he called both Egyptian Telecom and to try to fix the problem.

“You will have service back on Saturday or Sunday or Monday or Tuesday, inshallah,” they said.

Merry Christmas to us.

I was a little sad about not being able to Skype with my family on Christmas day so we plugged in the Christmas lights to help cheer us up. Half of the string had gone dead. It was most depressing.

But, like the cookies, everything worked out.

The bank gave us back our money (yay!), Reid has a Blackberry and let me use it to call my family (yay!), the Christmas lights randomly started working at full capacity again by the time we were ready to sing carols and read the Christmas story (yay!), and our internet and telephone services were restored yesterday (yay)!

Bad things come in threes, they say, but if you count our sickness, the cookies disaster, the bank phishing, the internet being cut-off, and our Christmas lights dying…well, that’s five things. And it was plenty of bad things for me. I’m not sure my Christmas Eve could have handled one more bad thing.

Comparatively, though, we had a very Happy Christmas and even all those bad things didn’t feel too stressful because I knew everything would work out somehow.

That’s what faith is, I guess.

Rachel asked me what faith was this evening while I was putting her to bed. It’s always hard for me to define faith, especially to a two-year-old who is never content with any answer. I sang her the song Faith but she still wanted to know exactly what faith is.

For me, though, faith really is “a feeling within my heart” and feelings are difficult to explain. But I do have faith in my Redeemer. I have faith that all things will work together for my good—not necessarily on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday, but at some point in my life all my challenges, trials, and pitfalls will be resolved and I will be a stronger person for it. I have faith in a loving Heavenly Father who wants me to succeed. I have faith in eternal families and am so blessed to be married to such a wonderful man and have such wonderful daughters.

How could Christmas not be happy with faith, friends, and family around?


  1. Thanks for this, Nancy. I'm sorry there were some bad things happening, but I'm glad it all worked out. Thanks for the reminder about faith!

  2. That's funny about the cookies. Do you think it really matters if the sugar is creamed in with the butter, as long as the butter is creamed to the right consistency? Andy does the same thing though, just putting in ingredients in order instead of reading the instructions first... that is, when he uses a recipe. :) I'm glad that things worked out and that you had a good Christmas!