2002 – The Month Of Miracles Or, What Would Jesus Drive?
December was filled with many hardships for
me; at least that was how I initially viewed them. When I look
back on December now, I realize my own maturity and how I have
come of age. In the past, I would have handled myself miserably
through such trials and tribulations. I would have gotten
extremely mad or upset, depressed, and subsequently would have
done some dumb thing which would further compound my problems.
Invariably, by the end of such a month I would say “I hope to
never have another month like that again.” My frustrations would
have remained with me for days, weeks or months after. Yes,
though I was a bit frazzled for much of December, a clear and
cool head miraculously prevailed and I am very happy to have had
the trials and the lessons.
What were the trials? Everything that could go
wrong with my SUV did go wrong. Murphy, the wife, and all of the
little babies set up house in my car. In dreams, a car can
represent your body, the path you travel along, the obvious: a mode
of transportation from one existence/place to another, etc.
Well, this was not a dream, it was my life and I was living it.
Long story short, this month I spent almost $4,000 to repair my SUV.
the beginning of December, I contemplated making changes in my
life and decided it was time to move on with life and think
about relocating – translation: buying a house I liked for a
change and leave this horrible piece of house I acquired as a
result of someone else’s mistakes. I also contemplated ridding
myself of what some would call the “dreaded gas guzzling, people
killer, SUV” I drive. The two vehicles I always wanted were the
Jeep Grand Cherokee/Grand Wagoneer and a Porsche. In my youth, I
found both quite expensive. Now, as a
middle-aged woman, I can afford them and I considered trading
the “dreaded gas guzzling, people killer, SUV” for a Porsche. I visited several Porsche dealers; test drove a 911 C2
and even started visiting one in particular. I guess my “dreaded
gas guzzling, people killer, SUV” got wind of the idea and
figured “oh no you won’t.”
Trial No. 1: Rear Brake Failure.
I never heard the brakes grind until one
evening while on the way to work – just that one time. The next
day I took it in for repair – Kaching:
Trial No. 2: Missing And Partial CV Boots.
I heard the clicking sound indicative
of CV boot damage only once. The missing CV boots were
discovered while the car was in for brake work. The extent of
the damage meant I would have to replace the shafts as well.
Kaching: $500. When I returned with the car for this repair,
the guys finally found the elusive and mysterious leak.
Kaching: No Charge?
Trial No. 3: Transmission Failure.
While on my way home from work at 3:00
a.m. on the morning I was to take my car in to have the shafts
replaced, my car got within 6-8 blocks from home before it
bucked hard three times – but kept rolling on. As I started up
my street, a pretty steep grade, the car bucked one more time
but kept rolling until I got home and safely in my driveway. The
car bucked later that morning as we headed to the shop and after
the shafts were replaced, bucked once more on the way home. The
transmission finally failed once I was safely off the freeway
and again, close to home. Kaching:
The transmission failing led to a series of
events which turned my trials, as I initially saw them, into
lessons I will use for the rest of my life. The tow truck guys
showed up en masse to get “HER” onto the flatbed truck. They
were so hurt to find “HER” wheels locked and one of them,
disappointment in his eyes, walked over to tell me he
would have to drag “HER” onto the truck because “HER” wheels
were locked. At that moment, the guys at the shop where the car
was to return, called me back and apparently, they were talking
about “HER.” One of the guys instructed me on how to disengage
the transmission so the wheels would unlock. I screamed the
instructions to one of the guys who then shouted them to
another. One followed the instructions, the other gave “HER” a
little push, and the wheels moved. All of them pushed “HER” to
the lip of the flatbed (wasn't that sweet) and gleefully pulled “HER” rolling wheels onto the
Back at the shop, the guys discovered the transmission actually
burned up. Since they did not do transmission work I had to find
someone who did. I called a transmission shop and talked with
the third nicest John I would meet in 2002. John dispatched a tow truck
to the other shop, picked up my car and towed it back
to his shop. I did not physically meet this John until I picked
up my car one week later. That did not stop John from calling me
every single day to give me a status report on my car. After the
transmission was rebuilt and returned to the car, John
test-drove “HER” and did not like the way “SHE” cut off when he
put a little stress on “HER” engine. John put "HER" on the machine and found the Crank Shaft Sensor had failed.
Kaching: No Charge? John was determined to get a Chrysler part, not
an after-market part, so he went to Chrysler and found the new
replacement part was metal. Back at his shop, he replaced the
old plastic part with the new metal one and called to tell me
all about it. I had to tell John how much I appreciated his attention
to detail, his service-with-a-smile attitude, and how he was
rare find. He never let me sit back and wonder “is it done yet?”
Because John was so good to me, I had to be equally good to John
so I got a cashier’s check for John. I did not want John to
worry about a personal check, I put the money in his hands.
I picked up the car, and after doing our business, John and I
stood outside beside my car and we talked. He saw a footprint on
the floor mat,
something I had not noticed, and went to clean
it and then he said “there’s a lot of power in this Jeep. I
don’t know why they made these things with so much power. It’s
got a lot of power.” He looked at the tires and said “those are
good performance tires too.” A brand new Range Rover pulled onto
the lot and up to the stall beside my car and he said “you see
that truck there, you’d run circles around him and he’s got
truck tires on it, not these kind of tires.” He went on to talk
about the suspension and how good the suspension is. Then he
asked how long I had it, did I buy it new, why did I choose that
year and as I answered him, he kept saying “wise choice.” His
words would come back to me later.
Yes, John was right, my Jeep does have a lot
of power and a Porsche, well, I believe within three months I
would be so over the thing. I can see it as a second car, but not as
my primary car particularly when spring comes and I’m in
need of perennials and annuals – I can’t see packing a few
bricks of annuals in the back along with 100 pounds of potting
As I left the shop, the old Jeep and I took
the scenic route home and I reminisced about the Jeep and what I
had taken it through the past four years. In 1998, I set out to
find an old Jeep Wagoneer in good condition so
could pack it full of camping gear instead of stuffing that poor
little Mazda she drove. I drove everywhere looking for a
Wagoneer and found the Wagoneer was no longer manufactured by
Jeep, which explained why most of what I found looked a little
beat up and whatever was in good condition was being driven by
original owners. Since I no longer buy new cars for many
reasons, I decided to bite the bullet and look for the next big
wagon in the Jeep line, the Grand Cherokee (aka "ZJ"). Every Jeep Grand
Cherokee I saw offered passenger side power seats. What I could
not have known then but realized much later was buying the Jeep
with a passenger-side power seat would be the best decision I
could make. Later, it would prove to be the most comfortable and
convenient thing I could offer both my uncle and Christine when
they were ill.
I remembered back to the time I drove that
Jeep off the lot, calling Christine and driving to her house.
I watched her as she flipped the seats down, got in the back,
sized it up and contemplated all the things she could put in it.
I remembered asking her, “Did I do good?” She looked at me
laughing and said “you done real good.” Two weeks after
purchasing the Jeep, however, it was put into serious service as
my mother and I headed to and from San Francisco. My uncle
suffered a head injury and as a result, he didn’t know who he
was, who we were, and he could barely talk. End stage renal
disease compounded his problems. While he was hospitalized in
San Francisco, we were either flying or driving back and forth.
When he was finally released from the hospital in San Francisco,
my mother and I drove up, in my Jeep, to bring him
back to L.A. We would continue our trips north to get his things
and haul them back to L.A. for a few months more, in my Jeep.
The same was true for Christine as we went
back and forth to chemo, to the store, and on assignments from one
end of the city to the other. Christine became quite comfortable with lowering the seat
to get in, fastening her seatbelts, raising the seat and moving
it forward without the discomfort of jerking herself back and
Jeep never once complained the entire four years I’ve had it.
Maintenance was always catch-as-catch-can. Oil changes were done
when I could. I always did the annual transfer case maintenance every year and
not always on schedule. This year it did start to cough,
sputter, and spit and I had to let it cough, sputter and spit
because I did not have time to have someone to put a stick in
its mouth and have it say ahhh.
I then thought, “well old girl, it’s our time
now.” Whatever “SHE” wants, whatever “SHE” needs, “SHE” can have
it because “SHE” has been a dutiful and faithful servant these
past few years –and I am okay with that.
The Lessons: In
the past, I would have moaned awhile about this experience. Why
me? Why now? Oh the money. Now I won’t be able to go there or do
that. I would have kicked and screamed and moaned awhile. And
worry – oh no one could have known the worry I would have worried
about worrying. But there were lights in the darkness. They
- I got home at 3:00 a.m. without being stuck
on the road waiting for a tow truck. I got home. I need to
repeat this – I got home. One friend said Christine was
pushing me home – no doubt;
- The guys found the elusive leak -- no more
pouring gallons of antifreeze in every week;
- I had the pleasure of seeing eight men
display pride in workmanship, in their jobs, in what they did,
and they were all service oriented. They understood word of
mouth is truly your best advertisement;
- Okay, I’ll say it again. I got home at 3:00
a.m. without being stuck on the road waiting for a tow truck.
I got home and Christine probably did push it up to the house
– no doubt; and
- I was off the freeway when the transmission
died. It did not freeze up in the center lane with cars going
70 miles per hour around me.
When you find yourself sitting in the dark,
allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness and only then will you
see the light which will lead you out of the dark. If I had been
the hard hot-head of my youth, I would never have seen the gifts
I got for Christmas.
The lessons in December served as my encouragement to go
back into business. All of my life I have had a business; from
the time I was a child I sold Stuart McQuire Shoes, was a
babysitter, collected bottles, mowed lawns, shoveled snow, raked
leaves, or sold figurines door-to-door. As I got older and
became proficient in photography, I became a club photographer,
a fashion photographer, runway photographer, did actor/model
composites, sold darkroom services, was a wedding photographer,
and portrait photographer. Later, I promoted/produced fashion
shows and was a freelance magazine/newspaper photographer. In
purchased my first XT compatible computer running at a top turbo
speed of 12 MHz. I also purchased
a 300 bps modem to do some surfing and I don't mean "the internet."
At that time, Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs) were popular and I found myself in the minority
as a woman on most of those boards. The men, however, were very
helpful and taught me a lot about computers. The software I
acquired came from the men I knew who lived near me or met
online. These men also taught me how to repair computers – they
walked me through the "stuff in the box." One guy even told me about a box I could
purchase at an electronics store that would convert the language
from my Panasonic typewriter to Epson Printer Control Language
and I was then the only person to have affordable letter-quality
printing. That launched my typing service, which evolved into a
office support/secretarial service, which evolved into a transcription service,
which continues to evolve. My motto has always been
"service-with-a-smile" and contributed to my success as an
The Gift And Revelation:
I have always believed that after each
trial, there's a rose. Mary Jo used to tell me this often
because she was inspired by St. Theresa "The Little Flower."
She would say, "after a trial, look for the rose." There's
also an old gospel song which refers to the "Lily in the
Two days before Christmas, I had one last unknown
bit of turmoil and knew it had nothing to do with the Jeep or
the Porsche I had begun lusting for and thought I would have by now. I couldn’t
figure it out. I kept coming back to the guy at the transmission
shop and the conversation we had. The words that kept coming to
me were "you have more power than you think you have and stop
judging yourself by others. Look at what you have." As I sat staring in my living
room for some time, remembering the guy's words and trying to figure
out what it all meant, I thought forget it, I’m going to
About an hour after getting into bed, one of
my dogs – the one Christine often referred to as the “dummie”
started barking. He does this weird thing some nights and one
night I snuck up on him and found him in the kitchen,
in the dark. I quickly turned on the light and found him
standing in the center of the floor barking at the door. I
thought him truly stupid, turned off the lights, and went back
to bed. Now, here this dog was doing it again. This time,
he left the hallway and went into the living room. What I
noticed however, was the other little one did not get up to bark with him. Usually she sails off the bed or
jumps and turns sharp corners to catch up with him to
join him in barking. Not this time. I continued thinking “what a dumb
dog,” turned over, and he did finally shut up.
Approximately one-half hour later, he started
up again and the little one still did not bark. I decided to
sneak up on him again to see where he was and why he was barking. I
initially thought he might have been at the
fireplace and perhaps something got in. I got up, tip-toed into
the hallway, peeped around the corner and there he was sprawled across the
living room floor, looking up at something and barking “wolf”
then he wagged his tail. “Wolf, wolf” and he wagged his tail
again. I came completely around the corner and leaned
against the wall. This boy can be so focused and so intense when he is
barking, he barely notices me sneaking up on him.
The little one, however, walked around me, sat and just looked
at him. She did not go into her usual momma alpha dog mode
running up to him growling as if to tell him to shut up. I felt
she knew exactly who was standing in
front of him.
I’m sorry, I have no logical explanation for
why this dog was laying flat on his belly, apparently looking up at someone, barking playfully at them, and wagging
his tail. I just do not have an explanation for that. Dropping
books that mysteriously open to particular pages – I can deal
with that. Mysteriously retrieving the wrong file that reminds
you, specifically, of someone – I can deal with that. Music
playing at the right time after a particular thought – I can
relate to all such incidents as these. But, a physical presence
standing before my dog and my dog – no, both dogs see it – never
been down that road.
The next day, I called “Oh Logical One,” my
mother. If she can’t see it, feel it, taste it, it don’t exist.
In order to not make the event a big deal, we talked about
everything under the sun for a while and then I told her “what
my stupid dog did early this morning.” My mother got real
serious. “What do you think he was looking at?” she asked.
don’t know” was my response. “Was something on the roof you think?”
I responded “he was not looking at the ceiling.” “Was he looking
in the kitchen?” I said “no, he was looking up and the kitchen
was dark.” “How did you see him then?” I told her “both the
lights in my office and living room were on.” “Was he looking at
a spider?” I told her “if
the itsy bitsy spider was coming down from the ceiling, since
his head never moved to track the spider, I walked over to see
what he saw and there was no itsy bitsy spider, rabbit, mouse,
moth, nothing.” Somewhere in the middle of this question and
answer session my mother switched from “What do you think” to
“Who do you think he saw?” To keep the questions going with “Oh
Logical One” I responded “I don’t know.” Then she asked
hair stand up on the back of your neck, did you experience any
fear?" I told her “no, I was actually quite comfortable.”
asked again, “Who do you think he saw?” This time I answered
with my first thought when I looked down at the little one – “I
wondered if Christine was in the house.” My mother calmly
responded “talk to her.” She went on to say “you must be going
through something because she showed up last night to let you know
she’s there if you wanted to talk.” Well, after I retrieved my
teeth and put them back in my mouth I was actually quite
comfortable with the idea.
Christine and I talked every day, often
several times a day about everything. Why should it be any
different now? For the next several days I did just that. I
carried on and
talked about everything I felt, my frustrations, my anger, asked
questions, I just talked and did some catching up. Well, she
answered me Sunday morning between 12:00 midnight and 8:45 a.m.
Ironically, the same time I awoke in the hospital before she
died and the same time I went to bed that morning. The same
experience I had for seven weeks after her death on Sunday
mornings when I would awaken before or exactly at midnight and
remain awake until 8:45
a.m -- the exact time I would walk over and reset my alarm clock
for a time later in the day.
That morning, I learned many lessons and
realized an error in judgment when I took a dream literally. In the dream, when I left Christine’s house and
turned to look back, the neighborhood changed and I found myself
driving up a different street in a different neighborhood and I
heard Christine, as if she was sitting next to me say “this is
where you should live.” I took both images literally and thought
I should not look back at her literal house after finishing
there and I should find a
house in an wooded area just like the one I saw in the dream.
Partially right; partially wrong. Though I dislike the
house where I live, I have come to love and enjoy the area and
the little fuzzy neighbors I once found annoying, the coyotes,
the possums, the skunks (who got my dogs one night), the little
raccoons, Mr. squirrel and his family, and the cute little
family of humming birds and I so dislike leaving my serenity to
go into the city. The city does not hold the same
excitement it once did, not anymore. I have also been one
who disliked being stuck and looking back, but for whatever
reason, I have been standing here at a fork in the road
looking back down the path where I’ve come. It’s time to
say goodbye and move on.
I learned that morning we all have choices, we
choose our paths, and the paths contain the lessons we need for
the next task we are to undertake. There is no wrong or right
path, no good or bad choices, or good or bad lessons – just
lessons we learn along the way. You can choose to stop, stall
out and stay put and that’s okay. However, it is the forward
motion of walking the path where we learn and experience the
many lessons in life and invariably, we'll come out on the
other side to yet another fork in the road – more paths, more choices, and more lessons. We need to keep our minds, our bodies,
and our spirits finely tuned -- or as one homeless man told me
once, "pay attention" -- so we can make wise choices for our
own personal growth. Good and bad, right and wrong are
perceptions and often the perceptions of others can influence
individual choice. Then again, you can still choose whether you
will be influenced by the perceptions of others or walk to the
beat of your own drummer. I have no reason to continue
standing here, my transmission has been repaired and I've got
plenty of power.
The special gift I received the morning of
December 29, 2002 was the meaning of Caleb and the relevance of
the message. I guess I studied too long and hard
on the history of Caleb when in fact, I needed to focus (pay
attention) to where I was lead at
Joshua 14:6. I’ll let everyone do the math here, but this year
I will be 45 – I would never have gotten that. Yes, 2003 will be
a very happy new year for me as I emerge from the desert to
inherit the land my feet walked across. And, yes, the stone the builders thought worthless turned out to be the most precious stone of all. You
never know who you might meet and for what reason.
want to thank my Patron Saint, Christine, for the little pup she carried home to me in
her arms, particularly since she did not like dogs. I was
actually shocked to see her carrying a dog. Her name is the
title of my all-time favorite song which was a surprise for me then, but
now I know what it all meant.
What would Jesus drive? I can only
tell you what Jesus drove these past few years – a big Jeep
Grand Cherokee with a gas guzzling V8 engine. He drove with my
mother and me to and from San Francisco. He drove with my mother
and me from San Francisco with my uncle in the back seat. He
knew this four-wheel-drive vehicle would easily make the frequent
trips over the mountains and around the hills. While he was
driving, little angels were holding parts together; the brakes,
the CV boots, the shafts, the transmission, and they had their
little fingers on the pipe with the leak. They fell out from
underneath the car with a collective sigh of relief when He told
them I had everything I needed now to move on. Often He drove a
Mazda Protégé and one time he drove a U-Haul from San Francisco.
I don’t think he much cares about what you drive. I believe He
cares most about what you do . . . with what you have.
Happy Trails (with a spotter of course).
Have you noticed how Trials and Trails have the same characters.
In this world there’s much
and I’ve taste the city life and it’s not for me.
Now, I do dream of distant places.
Where? I don’t know now, but it’s destiny...
If it’s the rich life, I don’t want it.
Happiness ain’t always material things.
I want destiny, it’s the place for me, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Give me the simple life.
I’m getting away from here.
Let me be me, come on, let me feel free.
Now, I’m a woman that’s for all seasons.
And what the city offers me ain’t naturally.
I looked to greet the stars, but there’s no stars to see.
I’m going to search this world until I find my destiny.
If it’s the rich life, I don’t want it.
Happiness ain’t always material things.
I want destiny, it’s the place for me, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Give me the simple life.
I’m getting away from here.
Let me be me, come on, let me feel free, let me be me.
I wanna get far from here
Or should I up and fly away so fancy free
Nobody can change my mind
the words of destiny are calling me wild time...
Destiny. You and me -- so fancy free.
Destiny -- The Jacksons
Well . . . maybe not.
It's time for me to close one chapter and start
another as this will probably be my last commentary for a while.
I do want to encourage anyone who is interested in contributing
and sharing "Their Story," or commentary to forward to
or mail to ProWord Services, P.O. Box 432, Altadena, CA 91003.
Grand Cherokee Association
stop source for
Jeep Grand Cherokee Information