The Idle American: Looking for sunshine in dark skies

Life has its difficult times and its difficult days but in the midst of hard times, it’s better to keep looking for the best a hard day can offer.

Ever-deepening Christian faith is called upon by believers who sometimes are challenged by their “trust and obey” commitment.

We need only point to COVID-19, which has laid claim to as many as seven million lives worldwide, and many times that number who have been affected greatly by the pandemic’s countless joy-sucking tentacles.

We hear the screams of many people blaming COVID-19 for many of their hurts; this is understandable. Today, though, I am focusing on a family choosing to keep the faith….

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   Our youngest daughter, Jeanie McDaniel – along with husband Ryan, son Jonah and daughter Addison – uprooted their family recently to serve almost a year as house parents in a children’s home.

They’ve also dealt with ongoing family illness and experienced the trauma of a real estate deal gone sour. Most of all, though, they’ve lost a loved one. The sudden death last August of Julie Choate – our oldest daughter and Jeanie’s “big sister” – still hurts deeply.

Brenda and I, as well as Jeanie and her family, are not given to “towel-tossing.” Nor are we blaming COVID.

Instead, we’re shedding light where we can, as well as looking for sometimes hard-to-find rays of sunshine…..

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   First a strong suggestion: READ THE FINE PRINT. When the McDaniels signed a contract to build a new home in January, they were assured occupancy within seven months. Delays have been numerous, and no dirt has been moved. The family has attempted to be understanding with the company’s litany of ongoing excuses, many of which blame the city for permit delays.

Late in May, they received a stunning email informing them that the new construction price tag would balloon by $84,000, take it or leave it.

I join the McDaniels in being shocked that they must respond within 72 hours. Surely some negotiation is possible. However, the firm’s sugar-coated assurances/apologies for the past 150 days are in keeping with its “right now” ultimatum.

Big businesses typically have “been down the legal road,” fully understanding of ALL the fine print. The McDaniels own a home, so their lives go on. I hurt most for first-home buyers who thought they were going to be homeowners but instead remain chained to rentals. READ THE FINE PRINT….

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Don Newbury

The family felt a ray of sunshine, however, during Addison’s recent rainy day fourteenth birthday celebration. She wanted to go to a new restaurant. Knowing it might be crowded, we arrived in late afternoon, thinking there’d be seating available then.

 

We were wrong. At the “sign-in counter,” we learned there’d be a one-hour wait, and that we would be required to remain outdoors until our number was called.

It was pouring rain outside. We hurried to our cars, resolved to find another restaurant which would allow us inside….

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   Within a mile, we found Mooyah, a hamburger place tucked inside a shopping center.

There, the atmosphere was inviting, and upon learning a birthday group was celebrating, manager Chad Hall pulled out all the stops.

He gifted her with milkshakes and put three cookies into her take-home bag. Chad’s 16-year-old son Jacob was taking orders. Jacob repeated my query about senior discounts.

Overhearing, Chad said, “How does a free burger sound?” He said this without knowing of my writing a syndicated column where compliments are frequently dispensed. He probably figured my white hair meant I’d been asking about such discounts for a quarter-century or so….

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   As I munched on a free burger, I learned that he’s been in the restaurant business for 26 years and in management for 15. He became manager of the locally-franchised Mooyah just nine months ago.

He highly values customer appreciation. We’ll return to Mooyah.

If in McKinney, we’ll try Country Burger, even if it no longer offers “double-doubles.” The burger place opened in 1973, the same year In-N-Out trademarked “double-double.” Recently, the owner received a mandate from corporate In-N-Out to remove “double-double” from the menu. She’ll comply and won’t even blame COVID-19….

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   Dr. Newbury is a long-time public speaker and university president who writes weekly.  Email: [email protected]. Phone: 817-447-3872. Facebook: Don Newbury. Twitter: @donnewbury.

Don Newbury is the author of Mostly Mort, a collection of wit and wisdom from his mythical uncle in the Big Thicket of Texas. Please click HERE to find the book.

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