a good (Fri)day

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I saw the flashing lights in my rearview mirror, glanced down at my speedometer and knew those lights were meant for me. I pulled over to the side of the road and pulled the appropriate documents from the glove compartment. As I reached into my purse the police officer was at my window “License and registration”. I pulled the little black folio that holds my driver’s license and my “badge” out of my purse and handed it to the officer. “Please take your license out of the holder and who do you work for?” said the officer. I responded “It’s not me but my husband was one of the firefighters killed on September 11?” The officer took all my paperwork and headed to his car. A few moments later he returned, handed me my paperwork and said “slow it down”. I said “Yes, sir. Thank you.”

As I pulled away, I felt bad because I really deserved a ticket. I had been driving above the speed limit. Bruce’s (my) badge stating FDNY widow had rescued me from getting a ticket. I was struck by the thought that because Bruce died I didn’t get what I deserved. I was grateful. Then I thought wow because Jesus died I don’t get what I deserve – Jesus paid the price for my sins. Just then I saw the flashing lights again, glanced at my speedometer and was confused because I wasn’t driving above the speed limit. The police car changed lanes, sped past me and pulled over another car. As I drove past, I wondered if they had a “special badge” to void a ticket. I wanted to lend them my badge. I wondered if they knew Jesus loved them and died for their sins. I was struck by how often I don’t tell people that. I was humbled and cried. My speeding story happened a couple of years. Today seemed like a good (Fri)day to tell you. Jesus loves you and died for you. 🙂

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.”

DC and me

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I visited Washington DC this weekend with my youngest daughter. We had a wonderful mother/daughter trip. I hadn’t visited the District of Columbia to see the sights since July of 2001. In 2001, my eldest daughter attended a one week course at American University. I had driven there and back in one day to drop her off. Those were crazy supermom times. When it was time to pick her up, my mom and younger daughter tagged along and we spent a few a days seeing the sights. During this past weekend, I mentioned a few times to M that we did this or that when we were here in 2001. She didn’t remember the trip. She was only 14 years old at the time. She remembered a few things she did on her senior trip to DC in Spring of 2004. And even commented that she didn’t really appreciate all of it. I mentioned that even if she didn’t appreciate the trip it was a worthwhile experience. I quoted my Dad who was famous for saying “travel is wasted on the young.” Which I don’t think he really believed because he gave my siblings and I opportunities to travel. Anyway as we were looking for a parking garage this past weekend, I commented ” July 2001 was the first time I ever remember having to open the trunk and them using that long mirror to look under the car.” Strangely M remembered that, too. Little did we know that would become a normal part of life in today’s world.

Washington is a beautiful city. It is very clean and doesn’t seem cluttered. As we walked along we mentioned how quiet it seemed in comparison to NYC. I often wonder what people think when they visit NYC for the first time. I love NYC but I think the energy of the city overwhelms people. There is something awe-inspiring about DC. The buildings are so majestic and the memorials are stunning. I felt humbled not just by the beauty of the structures but by the sacrifice and ideals that they represented. I was reminded of what an amazing country I live in. As my Dad used to say “Our form of government isn’t perfect but it is better than any other form of government you will find in the rest of the world.”

Our 30 hour visit to DC included the Newseum, the Pentagon Memorial, a night tour of the city, the Capitol tour, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and the Museum of American History. We walked a lot. Noteworthy: The Newseum is a newer museum and well worth the time and admission price. The world map that shows which countries have a free press is a moment to be thankful. I was saddened that the Pentagon Memorial doesn’t have a larger number of visitors. I was grateful to visit it with a fellow docent from the Tribute Center who was able to tell my daughter and I the meaning of the various elements that make up this beautiful memorial. He also shared his personal September 11 Pentagon story. The night tour of DC is a must. The memorials are stunning at night and not crowded. The tour bus stops at the Capitol, White House, Jefferson, World War II, Roosevelt, MLK, Lincoln, Korean War, Vietnam and Marine Memorials. The tour guide disembarked with us and told all kinds of interesting facts. If it hadn’t been so windy it would have been perfect. The funniest line of the weekend was when we were in the Library of Congress and we couldn’t find any books. M commented “There are no books. They are all on a Kindle.” 🙂

The weird thing about the visit was the reality of “the personal loss in the midst of a national tragedy”. The Newseum had a September 11 section, the road in front of the White House is closed because of 9-11, other places had September 11 remembrances and the Capitol had a memorial to Flight 93. It wasn’t a negative thing. It was almost like a secret my daughter and I shared. And I wondered what secrets the other visitors had as they looked at the various memorials and remembered a family member or friend.

It was a great weekend to spend time with my daughter and to remember that “freedom isn’t free”.

No parking

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I am always leery of parking on the streets of New York City. There are just too many signs stating things that seem to me to be contradicting each other. When I was in my twenties and pursuing my “theater career”, I took acting lessons at HB studios in Greenwich Village. I would park on the street and I got many a parking ticket. Parking tickets in NYC are expensive. Lesson learned so now I use parking garages in NYC which can still be expensive but you don’t have to worry that your car will be there when you get back. FYI: my car was never towed but I worried about it.

Recently I heard it said that the Christian life (I think this applies to life in general) isn’t a parking space it is a road. I have been pondering this idea of “parking”. I mean think about it if you find a good parking space, it is convenient and safe. Why move? And really what could be more annoying than having to move your car because of that crazy “opposite side of the street parking” rule. Change just for the sake of change may not be beneficial. On the other hand if you never leave your parking space, you have missed the journey.

On Monday evening the dashboard lights on my car weren’t working. My headlights were working but none of the lights on my dashboard were lit. Well, how big of problem can that be? I can see where I am going and people can see me. I know what radio station I have on. Well, it was actually really a problem because I had no idea how fast I was going. After turning the inside light on and off a few times to try to establish my speed. I realized I had a small flashlight in my car which I could shine on the speedometer so I knew how fast I was going. Just in case you are wondering,I did resolve the issue with the help of some friends and the owner’s manual. When I reset the trip counter I must have turned the knob and it dimmed the dashboard lights.

In thinking on that experience, I realized that I could see where I was going because my headlights were working but I didn’t know what speed I was traveling at. That is a really good example of my life right now – I think I am headed in the right direction but I am not sure if I am traveling at the right speed.

Wow and aha moment – maybe that experience was a confirmation that I am on target and moving in the right direction but I need to make sure the “dashboard lights” are on to give me further information. 🙂