Just Stay Calm

I just found out today that my car has been deemed a total loss.

I was in a fender bender last Wednesday on my way to work, and apparently the damages exceeded they value they assessed to my car. That doesn’t take much when you drive a vintage vehicle.

But to me that red Jeep is worth more than a numerical value based on age and wear. I’ve been through a lot of life in that 1997 Jeep Cherokee.

I’m not ready to let go just yet.

So I’m praying.

I don’t know if it’s theologically correct to pray about things like cars, but I’m praying. I believe that God says to come boldly to the throne of grace in time of need. Not just for what you and I consider the major events and the important stuff.

I think it means to come all the time. To pray without ceasing until praying is as natural and automatic as breathing. To bring my need to the God who cares for the lowliest of sparrows.

I can’t imagine how this scenario with my car will play out favorably, but I will bring my request before the Father in heaven and let Him do the fighting.

I’m more than a little stressed at the moment. It’s my default setting, and try as I might to pray verses and claim God’s promises that perfect love casts out fear, I’m still worried sick.

I’m taking my mustard seed-sized faith and trusting that God will do not what I want but what’s best. In the end, I always find that God’s best is what I would have wanted from the start had I been wise enough to look from a broader perspective. God’s best easily surpasses the wildest and biggest imaginings of my heart.

Now I will wait and see and trust and hope.

 

The Red Sled Lives On

Four years ago, I acquired this 1997 Jeep Cherokee, also affectionately known as the Red Sled. Said Red Sled now has over 323,000 miles and is still running like a champ (knock on the nearest wooden object I can find).

I don’t see any newer vehicles that I like quite as much as my beloved Jeep. Almost none of them has the style or personality. While the gas mileage isn’t the greatest, it gets me where I need to go with more than a little pizazz. That has to count for something.

I know it doesn’t look like a new car anymore. It has its share of dings and scratches and blemishes like any self-respecting 20 year old car should. I’ve seen a lot of cars not quite as old that look way more beat up and run down than mine.

I’m thankful for this Jeep, even if the KBB value is under $1000. It’s value to me is way more than monetary. There are lots of great memories (and a few sad ones, but the good ones far outweigh the bad) associated with this car. Lots of family and friends have ridden in it over the years, and lots of good conversations and laughter have taken place there.

I plan to keep driving the Red Sled for a while longer. It may not have the cool factor of a Wrangler or a CJ7, but it’s hip and trendy enough for me. Plus, the A/C still works great, which is always a bonus in the hot and sticky Tennessee weather we’re having (can fall please get here soon?).

I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about whether my car will get me where I need to go. It’s very dependable. And did I mention how cool I look driving it with my gnarly $20 shades?

 

What’s Your Worth?

Today for a lark, I decided to look up the value of my 1997 Jeep Cherokee on the Kelly Blue Book website. I had no delusions of grandeur, thinking I owned a Lamborghini or a Mercedes Benz. I knew my car was old and had over 300,000 miles on it.

Still I was a bit surprised by the result. $800 was the maximum value of my car. I could probably trade in my car for a nice bicycle, but not a really nice one. Just sorta nice.

I was more amused than offended. I know that I couldn’t get anything close to as good as the car I have now for $800. I’d be doing really good to get something that even ran for $800.

I got to thinking. If you took all the raw materials that made up a human body, what would be the worth of all those elements? I was curious, so I googled it and got the result of $5. That’s the going rate for a body’s worth of these raw materials.

I remembered something my pastor said. He said that your worth is more than what you are made of. If you were on Antiques Roadshow, the appraiser would put on his white gloves and talk in hushed excited tones.

My pastor said that if he could turn you upside down and show you the Artist’s signature, that would prove that not only are you of great worth, you are priceless.

You have more than God’s signature on you. You bear the Imago Dei, the image of God, in you. You are unique and one of a kind, and there has never been nor ever will be anyone else exactly like you.

You are also worth Christ dying to redeem you. Bear that in mind when people judge your worth by your income or your title or your possessions. Whether you live in a gated mansion or in a cardboard box, your worth and your identity is not what you have but in Who made you and Whose you are.

Oh, and I still love driving my $800 Jeep.

I Love my Jeep

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I recently had to take my 1997 Jeep Cherokee to Fitz-It Auto Repair. Anytime you have work done on an older car, there’s always the possibility– however remote– that the repairs could end up costing more than the car is worth.

Thankfully, all my car needed was a tuneup. Now it runs better than it has in a long, long time. In fact, driving the Red Sled, as I affectionately call my vehicle, is more fun than ever.

It won’t ever get mistaken for a luxury sports car like a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. It doesn’t get the ridiculously good gas mileage of a hybrid like a Toyota Prius. It’s “vintage,” which is another way of saying it’s OLD.

But how many 20 year old cars are still on the road? How many engines are still running after over 300,000 miles?

Contentment is loving what you already have and being brave enough to say that no, I don’t need more to be happy. I have enough. In this day and age, that’s a rare and radical mindset.

I may be an old fart for saying this, but I don’t see very many cars rolling out of the automotive plants these days that will have the staying power of those old Jeeps. Those Cherokee engines practically last forever if you routinely take care of them and do all the regular maintenance (like getting tuneups more than once every 20 years).

I think everyone should have at least one car in their lifetime that’s just fun to drive. Screw practicality and economy and safety ratings and just pick something that you can roll down the windows and turn up the volume on the music and enjoy the open road.

It helps if you have good music to go with your fun ride. That’s also a must.

 

All Those 10,000 Maniacs and That Toasted Graham Latte

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“These are days, you’ll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this and as you feel it

You’ll know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky
It’s true that you are touched by something
That will grow and bloom in you” (Natalie Merchant, Robert Buck).

Maybe I look at music a little differently than most, but it seems to me that certain kinds of music lend themselves to certain seasons of the year.

Obvious example: listening to The Beach Boys conjures up all sorts of images of summer. For me, a lot of 90’s alternative music makes me think of cooler temperatures and fallish weather. Don’t ask me why. It just does.

My soundtrack for the drive from work to meet my friend at Starbucks was the fantastic 10,000 Maniacs compilation, Campfire Songs. It covers the Natalie Merchant era and makes me want to wear a sweater. PS Maybe I’m old, but most of the new music I hear doesn’t even come close to the likes of 10,000 Maniacs or Natalie Merchant as a solo act. And it’s sad that it takes 8 songwriters and 3 producers to come up with something that pales in comparison to what guys like Freddy Mercury or Brian Wilson could do all by themselves.

I had every intention of enjoying a pumpkin spice latte, but the new toasted graham latte called out to me. Not literally, because that would have been super weird. More like a metaphorical kind of calling.

 

I’ve found that for me, the best kind of therapy is a good song at just the right moment. Music has a way of bringing me back from obsessing over the past or fretting over the future. It forces me (in a non-violent way) to be completely in the present.

Maybe that’s why I nerded out a bit when I found Patty Griffin’s newest album, Servant of Love, at Best Buy. It truly made my heart happy and immediately went into the CD player in my Red Sled aka my 1997 Jeep Cherokee with almost 293,000 miles on it.

God speaks to me most through music, and it doesn’t always have to be overtly Christian music. Sometimes a song that’s not even remotely about God can be a vehicle through which God speaks directly to my need.

God is good like that.

The end.

 

Introducing The Red Sled

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I have a major announcement. I am getting a new (to me) car. Well, my mom got a new car and I’m taking her old car and selling my old car. So really, there’s nothing new. The above pictured Jeep is NOT mine (and I will be shortly inserting a better picture of my red Jeep).

It has automatic locks and windows. It has cup holders that actually hold cups. It has a remote device that allows me to lock and unlock the doors from a great distance (as in across the parking lot, not across the country). It has 267,000 miles but still runs and looks great.

The main reason I chose to go with this one is that this car has been in the family since we bought it brand new back in 1997. This Jeep a.k.a. Maggie a.k.a. The Red Sled needs to stay in the family. There are too many memories we made in this car to let just any stranger buy it.

And did I mention it’s RED? I think it’s good practice for me for when I get my RED Mini Cooper. People need to get used to seeing me in a RED vehicle before they see me in a RED Mini Cooper and the shock is too much and they all spontaneously combust into a messy RED goo from a combination of awe, envy, and shock.

So yes, my cool factor just went up. I’m a bit closer to having a vehicle from THIS millennium. And it’s not like I’m unfamiliar with Jeep Cherokees. And yes, you’re welcome to ride in it anytime (between 9 am and 11 pm).

Also, I will be selling my 1995 Jeep Cherokee with 128,000 miles on it if you know someone who might be interested in owning the car that the amazing and awesome Greg Johnson drove for 10 years. The bidding starts at $5,000 (just kidding).

There will be further updates and a better picture of my red Jeep to follow. You may go back to watching Duck Dynasty.