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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Fine Line

February 10, 2012
I am not a good driver. I have never claimed to be a good driver.  I don’t enjoy driving. People don’t really want to ride with me, because I make them nervous. It has been said that I am a terrible driver; which I suppose could be true.  However, I have only had one actual wreck in my life, and I have only had 2 traffic tickets. Both pretty good numbers when you figure I have been driving for well over 30 years. 
I follow the traffic laws, for the most part, to the best of my abilities.  I am not perfect at keeping the laws. Far from it. You can ask my mother-in-law who was with me a couple of years back when I ran the red light on 57th street crossing the loop; or my kids, who have been with me when I went down a one way- the wrong way.  There are a million times a day when I look at my speed and realize that I am over the limit. I can’t count the times over the last year that I have been on my cell phone going through a school zone when I suddenly realized what I was doing. There have been just as many times that I have knowingly driven over the speed limit trying to make it to my destination quicker.  I have also knowingly “glided” through a stop sign and even a red light because I did not want to take the time to stop, and I knew no one was coming. I have driven my car with my inspection sticker or my tags out of date.  I am not perfect in my ability to keep the traffic laws, nor am I perfect in my desire to keep them.  However, my goal when I get behind the wheel is to obey the rules of the land. I think I can say with relative ease that no one has ever been able to keep all of the traffic laws, no matter how hard they try. 
My route to work every day takes me by an elementary school.  Depending on what time I actually leave my house, the speed limit could range from 25 mph to 30 mph.  But it is never over 30!  We live in a sub division that is not really “in town”- so it is hard to keep it under 30 on that long stretch of road.  But the road we turn onto from it to head “into town” (2305 or Lake Road) is even longer and bigger.  The speed limit on it is 50 mph. And I struggle with that as well- most of the time I set my cruise when traveling on 2305.
The other morning when I left my house it was getting close to 9 a.m. and I was trying to hurry, because my granddaughter attends the only day care in the world that “requires” you be there by 9 a.m.!! (I NEVER make it) I had missed the school zone time, but I was still having a hard time keeping my speed limit on 30. I looked in my rear view mirror to see a City Cop behind me and he was closing the distance at a pretty good clip. Now- I have to say that even with the cop behind me, I found it nearly impossible to keep my speed limit right on 30. The officer sped past me and changed lanes (no turn signal) and then took a quick right at the red light on 2305  to head into Temple.  He did not come to a complete stop before he made the right hand turn on red, he simply slowed down and went on through the red light.
At first, I was irritated.  How dare he, the officer of the law, not OBEY the law?  What kind of example was that to me and the other drivers on the road?  I mean, I don’t really have a problem with running through red lights, or speeding- but what about the others driving on the highway? 
It hit me right then- Police officers do not have the job of showing me the law.  Their job is not to keep the laws and serve as perfect examples to the public. (although their goal should be to keep the laws if at all possible) They are here to enforce the law. If I had turned right at the red light without coming to a complete stop, and an officer happened to see me and stop me, I would not be able to explain to him that I thought it might be ok because I had seen the officer right in front of me do the same thing.  I am held accountable to the law, and the law enforcer is here to point out when I am not following it. 
Was the law enforcement agent above the law? By no means- however, the badge he wears, the gun he carries, and the car he drives gives him a freedom that the rest of us don’t have.  However, this freedom also allows the law enforcer to protect the public.  For instance: When my son was robbed, I did not want the officers who were headed to the scene of the crime to be controlled by the traffic laws- I wanted them to speed. I did not want them bound by the traffic laws that keep the public from running in chaos! And I trusted they would get there safely and as quickly as possible. 
Since that morning I have considered how Christians mimic these relationships and roles in real life.
 Many feel like they are law enforcement officers.  They are constantly pointing out the way their brothers and sisters are failing to uphold the law- all in the name of love, of course. And yet, they themselves are breaking laws.  The thing with this is that is, as my friend Karen says, a fine line…where do God’s laws end and man’s additional laws begin?  And scripture tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.  I could be wrong, but I don’t see in scripture where “law enforcement” is a gift of the spirit.
And how often, as Believers, do we judge another Believer’s actions (as I did that morning with the police officer)? We see something going on, make a judgement call in our human hearts and then chalk that believer up as being a “bad role model” as a Christian. We determine what type of influence their actions are having on other Christians, and better yet, the rest of the unbelieving world; or even worse- we can attribute their actions to causing us to slip up and break a law. Often that is when we call on the Law Enforcement Christians, or we step into the role of the Law Enforcement Christian; and we attack our Brother or Sister.  Again in the wise words of Karen, this is a fine line. We are called to hold each other accountable-in love. And again, scripture tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. And again, I could be wrong, but I don’t recall in scripture where quick judgment of our brother or sister is a gift of the spirit.
And finally, how often as believers are we paralyzed by fear of breaking the very law that was put in place by our own God with the knowledge there was no way a mere human could ever keep it.  How often do we spend our lives looking at the speed odometer checking our speed while keeping a close eye on the Law Enforcement Officer who is following us, only to look down and see that once again we have failed, and instead of going 30 mph, we are now heading up to 32! The fear of being caught and disciplined only sends us into panic and we are now living our lives in slow motion, or worse yet, in hiding.  Once again- scripture tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:19-24…28…31 “We know that the law’s commands are for those who have the law.  This stops all excuses and brings the whole world under God’s judgement, because no one can be made right with God by following the law.  The law only shows us our sin. But God has a way to make people right with him without the law, and he has now shown us that way which the law and the prophets told us about.  God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ.  This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same:  All have sinned and are not good enough for God’s glory, and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift.  They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ…A person is made right with God through faith, not through obeying the law…So do we destroy the law by following the way of faith? No! Faith causes us to be what the law truly wants.”
It seems to me that what Paul is saying in Romans makes Karen’s wise words completely true.  Walking with Christ is a fine line. It says “faith causes us to be what the law truly wants.” I think that means that the law truly wants us to realize we can never keep it, we can never be good enough...The law wants us to realize we have to have a Savior...we have to have Jesus. I believe that as long as I am walking in faith with Christ, my faith and my life will reflect my driving record in many ways.  I will not always do what is right.  I will never be really good.  I will definitely not be perfect. But as long as I have my sights on my destination and my trust and my faith is in Christ- I am able to face anything! And even though the traveling between points A and B may be rough and a little frightening- I am going to arrive at point B…not on my own terms, but on my Savior’s!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Too Sexy for my Car"

February 6, 2012
The first brand new car that Cody and I purchased (actually the only brand new car we have ever purchased) was a Honda Accord.  I can’t remember the exact year model- It was probably a 1990 or ’91.  We had Jacob and Lynnsay, but no Dave yet. I loved that car…
When we went car shopping (the first time I had ever shopped for a car)- Cody had given me an entire scenario to act out.  I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I think I was supposed to act like I did not really like anything and I was nervous or something. Whatever my role was supposed to be, Cody and I had not been married long enough for him to come to grips with the fact that I have no acting abilities (my sister got all of those genes) and I can’t ever hide my emotions (no one in our family has those genes). So- the moment I got in the car and put it into gear (it was a 5 speed!!!!) and took off down the road in Killeen, I was hooked. I believe when we pulled back into the lot at Cleo Bay Honda my exact words were, “I LOVE THIS CAR!” And Cody knew his goose was cooked and his grand plans of negotiating had just been blown out of the water by his non-acting, over emotional wife. (If you ask me, it was a bad plan from the get go- but I tried to go along with it)
It was “Champagne” color with a maroon interior.  The interior was so plush and once the door was closed, outside noise almost ceased to exist.  The “new car” smell was heavenly. It had the oh so chic flip up headlights, and the antennae went up when you started the car and down when you shut off the engine… It was, and always will be, my very favorite car. We had that car until after David was born, and Jacob started school. That was when I entered the world of “Car Pooling”. 
When you have 3 children, and the oldest is in kindergarten and the youngest is 18 months, and you want to share the job of carrying your children to and from school- it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out you need a car with more passenger room…so we began to look for a vehicle that would fit our needs- a (YIKES!) mini van!
We settled on a “slightly used” Ford Aerostar.  It was the extended length and also was the “Sport” model.  Being a sport Aerostar only meant that it had some extra cut vinyl striping, and that it had running boards.  But even those did not make me feel very sporty while driving it.
There was a song popular about the time we bought the mini-van, “I’m Too Sexy”. There is a line in the song that says, “I’m too sexy for my car…too sexy by far.” I must confess, I sang that song every day when I drove that minivan, for a long time.  I am sure I even made up verses, because I do things like that.
I distinctly remember being at a red light by a lady in a cute Honda Accord and I was there in my big blue box (marked up with the racing stripes and running boards) and I hated her.  I was envious of the cute sexy car.  I also noticed there were not three children all screaming in the back seat of her car.  She seemed to be enjoying the music on the radio while I was making up new and improved verses to add to “I’m too sexy for my car”…  I am sure I sang something like “I’m too sexy for YOUR car…too sexy by far!”
I have to say I grew to love that minivan as well as the other two we purchased after that one. They are the affordable choice for a family.
It is hard to believe that was about 17 years ago.  Minivans have changed almost as much as my life over the last 17 years.  The last minivan I owned was a Ford Windstar.  I was so excited because the driver’s seat folded down and moved all the way up allowing the driver to have easier access to the middle row of seats. Now days minivans have doors that open electronically on both sides.  Even the rear door opens electronically! (I wonder how much money Chiropractors have lost since mothers no longer have to struggle to get those things closed?) They have stow and go seats; hidden cargo compartments; and  dvd players are the standard, not a luxury.
Funny thing is- I think I have out grown the minivan phase of my family, only to revisit it now that I am a grandmother. I really want a minivan. I want the space and the convenience.  Now, when I am at a red light and I see a young mother beside me in her minivan- and I covet the van.  Now I sing, “You’re too sexy for your car…too sexy for your car…too sexy by far!  I’m too old for my car… too old by far! I need a minivan….need a minivan- I think I’m going to tell my man.”
Funny how life is full of changes!  I never realized that having a grandchild would make me want to go back to the convenience of driving a minivan…and yet, I never realized how much having a grandchild was going to impact my life either!   

This is what our first minivan looked like- exactly!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Walking in the Water

January 31, 2012
Today is my daughter’s 23rd birthday.  It is hard to believe that she is already 23 and even harder to believe that in a little over 3 short months she will be a mother! Or as I like to put it, giving me my first grandson.
Lynnsay is a beautiful young woman.  Cody and I are so proud of the lady she has grown into.  She is a good wife, daughter, sister, friend and teacher.  She is talented in so many ways.  One of my greatest “thanksgivings” is that she and HB live in Temple…and while we try not to invade every aspect of their lives (Honestly, HB, I try. Hard.Really.Hard) we get to spend a lot of quality time with them.
Lynnsay, who, as I have already said is pregnant, recently asked me to start going to “water aerobics” with her…So while I know that I am not really good at “organized exercising”, I agreed to start going with her. She is adorable…and I know she feels like she is completely out of shape because she can’t really run or do any of the other activities she usually does to get into shape.  And besides, since she took water aerobics at A&M she has wanted to join a class.  I like being in the pool. Until recently, I owned a pool because I enjoy being in one so much. I love spending time with my kids.  And besides- I was pretty confident that Lynnsay and I would be the youngest ones in the class…and probably in the best shape…a HUGE overconfident assumption on my part since the most physical activity I have experienced in the last 9 months is chasing Aubrey.
We went last Thursday.  I was sitting in the car with Cody waiting for Lynnsay to get there and watching the ladies who were going in before us…they fed right into my overconfident state of mind…
Lynnsay and I changed to our suits (neither of us had swim shoes of any sort) and we headed to the pool.  A lady (probably in her 70’s) who had introduced herself to us in the dressing room, was the leader of the class. She had on tennis shoes. In the pool. (a woman with sensible shoes…a woman after my dad’s and my husband’s hearts) She was nice enough to have gathered our “equipment”. Hand weights, bar bells, and a kick board. There were 3 other ladies in the class- two ladies in their 60’s and a young girl who was a lifeguard. Even with the teeny bopper in the class, I was still feeling pretty confident.
Lynnsay and I were giggling as we got into the pool.  She was incredibly cute in her suit with her little pregnant figure- we missed the “stretch” time, but agreed how much stretching could it take???
Here’s the deal. I don’t think missing the stretches was my problem…but I did have a problem.
Lynnsay is excellent at organized physical activities. She is good at sports. She learned to Snow Board the first time she went skiing. She follows directions well.  She is coordinated and has some sense of rhythm. She is competitive. And she is young. (Ok! Ok! With the teacher being old, age should not really be figured in to my excuses- but I am playing that card anyway!)
I am not any of those things. About the 3rd time Granny Swim Trunks grabbed my arms or pointed me out in class, I sort of wanted to cry. And after she had asked me how to say my name, and I had corrected her from “Marlena” to “Marleea” twice- I kind of wanted to splash her in the face each time she said, “No Marlena it is like this!” “Marlena, you need to be sitting, like this.” “Marlena the breast stroke is like this, not the way you are doing it.”And when she said, “I have lapped you almost twice, you need to pick up the pace!” I bit a hole in my tongue to keep from saying, “Yeah! Because you are the jolly green giant with tennis shoes on!  I am short and I think my feet are rubbed raw!”
But instead, I would look at my daughter’s happy face; she looked so adorable with her little belly leading every exercise.  She did not seem embarrassed at all that her mother was a loser in the class.  When I turned to the left instead of the right, (which was quickly pointed out by Coach Sweetness, “Your other right, Marlena! It’s been a long day hasn’t it?” Another mental eye roll and splashing from me)it did not phase Lynnsay.  She just smiled at me and said sweetly, “See how much exercise we missed when we had the pool?”
She was patient and made me want to stay and try harder.  Her encouraging presence kept me from giving in and just deciding I did not want to do it anymore.
What a blessing to have a daughter who models Jesus for me! When things in my life get so hard, and I am about to give up, I know I have a Savior. As long as I keep looking at Him, I don’t fall into the grip of despair.  When I look at Christ I am not faced with a mirror of my own mistakes.  I don’t see embarrassment from Him because I am making a complete fool of myself. I see my Savior laughing and saying, “Come on Marleea! (He doesn’t ever call me Marlena) See how much fun we have missed!”
We are going again…and I am wearing my tennis shoes! I will keep my focus on my Savior and my daughter…and off of my inabilities and failures…  Who knows? One day you may go to a Water Aerobics class and find that I am the old lady leading the class! Feel free to splash me if that ever happens! (Oh- and I will feel free to grab your elbows and shove them to your sides, because that is where they are supposed to be! Not floating on top of the water.)

A few photographs of what I really enjoy doing in the water...