Laughter is my manna – especially when it floats down in unexpected moments and especially in the dark places of life.

Last fall, I had a speaking engagement up north. I love traveling to speak and share my family’s story, but I hate going alone. Often, flying solo is my only option, but this particular time, I asked a girlfriend from church if she would be free to tag along. This dear woman, who was experiencing some valleys of grief, agreed to be my traveling companion. Swapping stories and not paying particular attention to the road signs, we went on our merry way. About the time we missed the critical turn, I was thinking, “She is amazing! I am so glad I asked her to come on this trip. I could talk with her for hours.”

If my admiration wasn’t already solidified by her willingness to step up and help me lead the Christmas pageant last year, my love for my friend was cemented in one comment. As we got ourselves turned around and on the right track, she told me what her husband said about our weekend adventure. He wanted to know what I “got” for doing these speaking engagements. She explained she didn’t really know but quickly added, “I don’t think she asks for just the yellow M&Ms, if that’s what you are implying.”

I lost it.

Manna from heaven raining down.

I don’t think that her husband thought I was a diva. At least I hope not.

To be honest, this whole speaking and writing thing fell into my lap as I followed God’s prompting. Because this was God’s dream and not mine originally, I let him work out the details. Even so, I remembered her witty retort when my next request for a speaking engagement came in.

Now — before anyone believes I think too highly of myself — the request to speak at a school came from one of my best friends. She was the mediator on behalf of the administration to secure my presence for the engagement. Of course, our negotiations occurred during our morning texts. I mean, really. Who doesn’t broker deals in between stories of your children, your jobs, and prayer needs? When she asked how much I charged, I replied with my typical response.

I need my travel expenses covered, and how much you decide to bless me above that, I will be honored.

She hadn’t responded yet; so I decided to seize the moment and add a new clause to my “contract.”

Oh, and only the yellow M&Ms.

I am usually one of the funniest people in the room . . . until I am not.

My friend was completely baffled by my attempt to be a snarky diva. Trust me, the joke isn’t funny when you have to explain yourself via text message. I think in the business they say – that one fell flat. The explanation was only moderately less painful than stepping on a LEGO.

From that moment on, I decided girl-next-door was a much better fit for me than confectionary diva. From here on out, I’m not going to mess with adding any extra clauses. I’ll rely simply on being my authentic, wacky, flawed but grace-surrounded self.

The crazy thing is that my friends also enjoy heaven’s manna the way I do. Sometimes we have laughed over stories that occurred years before with as much gusto as when our funny bones were first tickled. These friends are like elephants – they never forget. When I arrived at the school for my speaking engagement, I was blessed with a bouquet of flowers, a glass of my signature sweet tea, and yep, you guessed it –

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And the tears and manna flowed down.

Kandy Noles Stevens

Author Kandy Noles Stevens

Kandy describes herself as science teacher by day and superhero by night. Sweet tea, family, and football are her loves after Jesus. True to her southern roots, Kandy has a story about everything. Sharing her life and its trials, Kandy’s down-home style of writing and speaking leaves readers and audiences in tears, fits of laughter, or better yet, both. www.kandynolesstevens.com.

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