Friday, April 17, 2009

Southern Driving

I love New York. Even though I moved away from there 14 years ago, I still carry it in my heart and in my accent. An acquaintance at work recently asked me where I was from. I answered “New York”. Their head tilted sideways and their eyes scrunched together a bit as they asked, “Do you commute?” I had to stifle a laugh as I replied, “Oh, you mean where do I live now?” Regardless of where I live, I will always be from New York.

I have been back to New York at least half a dozen times since leaving. I go back to visit family and friends, to show my children the place that is their birthright, and to eat real pizza. Although I have no plans to move back, I enjoy being a momentary tourist. New York really is a wonderful city.

There is, however, one thing about New York which I absolutely, unquestionably do not miss - driving in the city. The last time I drove there, it took me 40 minutes to find a parking space 6 city blocks away from where I was staying. In the process of looking for the parking space, I got flipped the bird so many times, I thought I was ready to fly. More drivers honked their horns at me than I care to remember. Good thing I have an excellent sound system in my car. They’d honk, I’d just turn up my bass a little more. (see, I remember how to be a real New Yorker). Nevertheless those 40 minutes were more stressful than the 10 hour drive before it.

I live in the country now. We honk, but only at dogs, deer or possum. We wave at each other, not offer the one finger salute. And for the most part, we take life a little slower. I like it that way. It gives me more time to breathe. It gives me a chance to be friendly and to think random thoughts. I guess that is the reason I moved away, first to the ocean and now to the country. I needed time and space to slow down. See, I drive behind tractors now – literally. I took this picture at a wide intersection yesterday on the way home from South Carolina.

What I didn’t capture was the 12 cars that were behind the van, all waiting for the Red Rider to get through the light. The amazing thing was not one of them honked their horn. No one shouted, at least not outside their own car. I sat and watched as that driver went through the light and only after he made a turn into an easement across the road did the other cars accelerate. It made me laugh, because it was such a typical North Carolina scene. And I pondered – why are so many people, including myself always in such a hurry? That man may have cost the other drivers a few minutes in their driving time, for sure. But from my perspective, the entertainment value of seeing a ride on mower leading a line of cars far outweighed any inconvenience.

I read the news this morning. Last night, on that very road, a driver lost control of his vehicle and died in the crash. The road was closed for three hours in both directions. It saddened me, because officials suspect that speeding was a factor in the accident. How ironic. A mower only slowed traffic for a few minutes. A speedster who lost his life, slowed traffic for hours. As much as I still carry New York’s rapid rhythm inside my heart, I think I will never again feel frustrated when I get stuck behind a country driver.

Do you have any driving stories? Leave a comment and tell me about it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Broken Bunnies

When my daughter was in kindergarten, she brought me a little trio of bunnies. They were a 'just because' gift for me from her classroom treasure chest. She got to pick out one gift every 2 weeks for being good. Rather than getting something for herself, she got something for me. I saw it as a special sacrifice from a 5 year old. Those bunnies are precious to me.

Somewhere along the line, perhaps during one of our moves, the bunnies fell and got cracked and chipped. I think it happened more than once. I have glued them back together as best as I could, but there are still pieces missing, and the cracks are evident. Nevertheless, they are precious to me.

I started thinking, I am like one of those bunnies. Purchased with a sacrifice. I have fallen, and have been broken, and even though my Lord's hand has picked up the remaining pieces, the scars still show. There are still holes that plead imperfection. But He still loves me. Sometimes it is hard for me to understand why He still loves me, why He still thinks of me as His precious child. Sometimes all I see when I look in the mirror is how broken I still am. Yet He loves me.

Then I remember my bunnies. And how much they mean to me. They might not mean anything to anyone else. Others would reject them in an instant, but not me. They were purchased with a price, as was I. I choose to see the love they represent, not their imperfections. My master sees me that way too.
Better still, He sees you with eyes of love too, no matter how broken you think you might be.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Color Restoration

I was sitting at my desk scanning some old photos before I placed them in my scrapbook. My scanner has a feature called 'color' restoration'. I keep it checked, figuring it is probably a good idea. On most of the photos, the difference is negligible. Some pictures simply become brighter, which is not always a feature I want. But there was one photo I scanned that made me examine the original and the restored copy.
It is a picture of my children's father, walking in the rain. It's a silly picture and one of my favorites because he is wearing blue shorts and cowboy boots and holding an umbrella. The sidewalk reflects the drops and you can tell it is late fall because the trees are almost bare, and there is an abundance of golden leaves on the ground.
I see all this in the original picture, which was probably taken in 1988. I can see the surrounding apartment buildings in the background, I can see the fading grass. It is a picture I took, and I remember it well. It is so familiar to me.
When I scanned it using the color restoration feature, I was taken aback. What I considered familiar, was in fact, faded. The restored photo brings out the brilliant green of the leaves that remain on the bushes. The bare trees stand out in deep contrast to the golden leaves. The sidewalk is a city slate grey, not the warm tan it appears to be in the original photo. Bill shorts are a bright blue, his t-shirt a contrasting yet equally bright red. The umbrella a sleek black, reflecting the silver raindrops.
How could I have forgotten the true nature of a picture I am so familiar with?
Time faded the beauty of the colors, blending them into soft yet almost lifeless shades of tan and yellows. And time faded my memory of what it was originally like.
So often, our relationships with our friends, our siblings, our spouses and even with our God are like that. Time fades the original beauty into something familiar, yet dull. We forget the beauty we once saw in the eyes of our newborn, or the brilliance that attracted us to our spouse. And we forget the way we once viewed our God. We become too familiar with what we suppose Him to be, and we are comfortable, but no longer impressed or moved by His beauty.
Scan your life today. Select the color restoration feature as you look at your friends, your family,and your God. See them with the eyes and the heart you once saw them with. Forget the wounds that hasten the fading process and open your eyes to the beauty, the brilliance, the wonder that is still there.

Friday, April 3, 2009

For a Purpose

This morning on my way into the office I caught the end of a conversation on the radio. I don't know what topic was being discussed, but what I heard was a confirmation to someting that has been stirring in my heart.

The speaker said "If you forget where you came from, you forget who you are. If you forget who you are, you won't learn the purpose that God has put you here for."

I believe that all of us are indeed placed on this earth for a purpose. None of us were created in vain or by accident. And everything that we have experienced and learned can be used in the fulfillment of this purpose. We are each a unique and a wonderful blend of beauty created by God. Together we make up a wonderful mosaic.

What is your purpose? Don't know what it is? Then maybe it's time to think about who you are.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


My daughter Danielle started attending community college a few months after we arrived from Puerto Rico. Because we homeschooled, my children's native language is English. We spoke it at home, we watched movies in English, we attended an English language church, and it was the language they did all their studies in.

They understand Spanish and can speak it when necessary, but not as fluently as I would have liked. It is one of the areas where I believe I dropped the ball. I should have spoken more Spanish to them at home so they would be more fluent.
I believe all parents can look back and think of many 'should haves'. Oh well...

My children speak English with no prominent accent. Yet, when Danielle started school, she had more than one person come up to her and say, very slowly and enunciating every syllable, something to the effect of " W-O-W. Y-O-U-R E-N-G-L-I-S-H I-S S-O G-O-O-D." Mind you, my daughter has never had any type of hearing problem. After the first few times, she finally began to answer, no doubt smiling her biggest smile, "T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U. S-O I-S Y-O-U-R-S."

She understood that the people who told her that meant no offense. And it has actually become a point of humor for us. I am just surprised at the assumptions that people make based on where you live or lived, what your surname is, or any of the other cultural distinctions.

It is one of the things I have learned to deal with. Most of the assumptions are simply based on ignorance. We can get angry, but I don't believe that anger without action has ever eliminated ignorance. Or we can simply find the humor in such ignorance. But the best course of action is to educate people. Of course, some will always choose to remain ignorant. There is little we can do about those. But for those whose ignorance is based out of lack of exposure, we can gently teach them who we are and what we believe and do from our cultural standpoint.

So to those who still comment on our excellent command of the English language, as a former New Yorker, I thank you, especially because I still pronounce coffee as caw-fee.