Letting Go

MR2 GrandCanyon2

It was love at first sight!  In February of 2005 I found a 1991 Toyota MR2, T-top with leather seats, for sale on eBay.  With each bid, my heart raced faster. The price was rising to the point I knew I should stop bidding.  But I REALLY wanted that car!  Fortunately, the other bidders quit just before the price hit my ceiling, and I won the bid!!  A few days later I flew from Virginia Beach, VA to Tampa, FL to pick up my “new” car.  I can’t recall ever being more excited about making a 12 hour drive than I was that day.  And so began my adventure with my favorite car ever.

Over an 11 year period, I drove almost 150,000 miles through at least 15 states in that little car.  It became a source of joy for three generations of Holladays.  After I graduated from Regent University in May 2006, my vehicle needs changed and a 2-seat sports car no longer was a fit. My dad had become fond of the little car, so he purchased the MR2 from me. After 18 months and a hip replacement,  my dad decided he would prefer to see his grandchildren enjoy the car. The MR2 keys came back to me wrapped in Christmas paper with a bow!

With a center of gravity just under the driver’s right elbow, that car would hug a curve tighter than a toddler hugs a teddy bear.  My kids and I enjoyed many drives on curvy county roads that paralleled the thrill of roller coaster rides!  On one occasion (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it), Griffin and I clocked our time from the south end of Old County House Rd in White Bluff, TN to the Charlotte, TN line just over the Jones Creek bridge at 59 seconds.  That section of road, with its sharp turns, dips and hills, normally required at least 3 minutes to navigate in the Suburban. I was never able to break that record, although I admit I tried a time or two.

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Baby Ruth on a trip back to Texas after “speaking” in Tennessee

Savannah learned how to drive a stick shift in the MR2, thanks to her Aunt Drea. Griffin actually learned how to drive in it. Baby Ruth and I made several trips together in the MR2 during the years she presented with me.  One of my favorite memories of her in that car happened in Holladay, TN at the North 40 Truck Stop.  I had a take out container of pumpkin crunch left over from Thanksgiving that I had packed for the road.  I stopped to fuel up at the truck stop.  In an effort to “Baby Ruth proof” the pumpkin crunch, I stashed the take out container up under the brake peddle and slid my seat forward.  When I returned to the car, I noticed Baby Ruth licking her lips and traces of whipped cream around her mouth.  Sure enough, my 80 lb. 10 year-old rottweiler had managed to get to the pumpkin crunch.  The only trace of the dessert left in the car was quickly disappearing from Baby Ruth’s lips!

By far the most memorable adventure involving the MR2 happened in the Grand Canyon.  Griffin and I drove the MR2 out to Prescott, AZ to tour Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University during spring break 2015.  On the way home, we detoured by the Grand Canyon and spent a night in the park.  After a day of sight seeing via bicycles and a hike into the canyon, we started toward Flagstaff for the night.  About 10 minutes into our journey east along the rim on Desert View Dr., smoke began to

MR2 GrandCanyon4

Emergency crews respond to the 911 call about the MR2

pour from the engine compartment of the MR2.  I pulled over, grabbed my computer bag from the trunk, and we ran back about 100 feet from the vehicle.  I called 911.  I think every member of the Grand Canyon National Park emergency crew arrived on the scene about 10 minutes later.  That event may be the subject of another blog post in the future, but the short story is Griffin and I left the MR2 at the Grand Canyon and returned home.  Two months later my dad and I made a trip back to the Grand Canyon to retrieve the MR2.  That trip was another adventure in itself!

Even typing those words almost two weeks after the decision brings tears to my eyes. The MR2 was connected to a sea of memories of raising children and adventures on the road.  It’s been like a friend for a decade of my life.

But sometimes the price of holding on is more than the pain of letting go.  Be it an addiction, a relationship, a collection of “stuff” or something else,  maybe it’s best to open our eyes to the toll it’s extracting.  Stealing joy from the future by holding on to the pleasure of the past seems like a focus in the wrong direction.  Anything you need to let go?

 

 

 

Shot in the Gut

I was just beginning to drift off to sleep a few minutes before midnight when I was startled by a domestic disturbance coming from a house nearby.  I did what any self-respecting Rottweiler owner would do; I put Legend on her leash and took her outside to investigate!  With my 106 lb. puppy in the lead, we walked down to the street to investigate.  All was quite.

I decided the ruckus must be over, so I turned back toward the house. But Legend had picked up a scent and was intent on investigating.  Given the late hour (and not wanting the occupants of the house to discover me lurking outside their place) I whispered for Legend to “leave it” and gave a gentle tug on her leash.  Legend was intent on sniffing out the trail she had discovered, and she did not respond to my wimpy command.  In my fear of being discovered, I reacted by jerking on her leash with all 245 lbs. of my being.

In all honesty, a good 25 lbs. of my being are the result of too many visits to Max’s Donuts, and a habit of overdosing on popcorn and M&Ms.  But there is also a fair amount of muscle hidden beneath my extra pounds.  I have no idea how much force I exerted on that leash, but what happened next provided some insight into that topic.

My jerk reaction was sufficiently powerful enough to bend the metal ring on Legend’s collar, setting free the heavy-duty metal clasp on the end of the leash.  It all happened in a flash.  I heard the “pop” of the clasp breaking free and noticed the street light reflecting off the shiny chrome missile heading straight at me!  In a fraction of a second that clasp traveled the 10 feet between me and Legend.  The thick hoodie I had thrown on while rushing out the door provided little cushion from the force of that clasp.  It felt like I had been shot in the gut.

Several thoughts instantly raced through my mind as Legend continued sniffing the ground, oblivious to the entire incident:  Man that hurts!  I really don’t like my dog right now.  If I start beating my dog, is anyone awake to capture it on video?  Wow, that really hurts.

Fortunately I did not respond in a bad way, as a few seconds later two police SUVs pulled up in front of me.  That distracted Legend from the trail she had been exploring and she walked over to me.  I held Legend by the collar and pointed toward the house I assumed the police were investigating.  Thankfully, they were not there looking for me!  Legend and I made it back home undetected by any neighbors.

When I got back inside, I checked out the damage caused by my overreaction.  The impact from the clasp had peeled back a few layers of skin, resulting in a painful looking “strawberry.”  But that was just the immediately visible damage.  About five days later the full level of bruising was evident, and it was much larger than the point of impact. Additionally, a hard knot developed on the deeper muscle, and it remains there almost three weeks after the incident.

You can learn a lot about relationships from a shot in the gut.  The damage caused by an overreaction is much deeper, and longer lasting, than we may see (especially us parents). Sometimes we resort to a show of force to affect someone’s behavior.  We yell, threaten, shame, manipulate, or bully others into doing what we want them to do.  We might succeed in getting our way in the moment, but we cause harm at a much deeper level.

We wonder why people don’t want to be around us, why they don’t talk to us, why they’re not interested in our ideas or advice.  We’re puzzled why we don’t have closer relationships.  We wonder what’s wrong with them.

A more productive question might be, “Have I done something to cause this?”  Has my show of force resulted in others avoiding, withdrawing from, being embarrassed by or distancing themselves from me?

My recent midnight experience reminded me that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  Perhaps a gentle approach would have been less painful, and more effective.  You may find that to be true as well.

You can learn a lot about sex…in a freezer

It comes in a variety of flavors...but it's still ice cream.

(This post is a brief sample of a chapter from a book I am writing.  I hope you like the concept!)

I am amazed at the variety of places and objects that illustrate truth about sex.  Tonight I went to Braum’s to pick up some ice cream for my wife, Holly.  (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)  There must have been 30 different flavors in the row of freezers I looked through.  My eyes were drawn to the Brownie Batter because that is the one I knew Holly would want.  Then I noticed the Peanut Butter Cup, and the Snickers, and the Peppermint, etc.  Let’s just say I walked out of the store with more than the Brownie Batter!

As I hovered over the row of freezers, envisioning a spoonful of chocolate Cake Batter finding its way into my mouth and wondering how upset Holly would be if I blew the whole bill in my pocket on ice cream (I bet old Ben liked ice cream too), I realized you can learn a lot about sex in a freezer!

Chocolate, Cookie Dough, Strawberry Shortcake, Mint Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Pretzel, even Vanilla, they are all variations of the same thing, ice cream.  No matter what the type, it is still ice cream.

It’s the same way with sex.  Fantasy sex, solo sex, cyber sex, text sex, oral sex, “true sex,” call it what you want, it’s all still sex.  The brain and the body respond the same way regardless of the type.

We live in a culture that tells our children, “It’s not really sex.”  Perhaps every parent should take their children on an outing to an ice cream shop.  After all, you can learn a lot about sex in a freezer.

Share Truth About Sex at Early Age

Start conversation about sexuality early with your children.

I had breakfast today at Poor Richard’s Cafe with Dan Martin, Executive Director of the Dallas office of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families.  I imagine our conversation was a bit different than the other conversations taking place.  Between bites of pancakes and bacon, surrounded by the drivers of the 42 pick-up trucks in the parking lot, we made introductions and talked about the topic we both work to promote, God’s vision for sexuality.

As I learned more about the NCPCF, I was appreciative of the fact that they encourage parents to begin dialogue about sexuality while children are very young, age 3 or so. I share that perspective.  If parents would begin conversations with their children at an early age and continue the conversations, the need for intervention during teen years would likely be much less.

A few months ago I was introduced to a new book by Jim Burns that provides a great tool to begin teaching children about sexuality.  God Made Your Body is designed for children ages 3-5 and filled with appropriate, vivid pictures that bring the book to life.

In his “Special Note to Parents” at the front of the book, Jim shares the following:  “At this age, it’s important to introduce children to the foundational theme that God created their body and it is special.  You begin laying out for them a healthy view of their body and the very basics of sexuality.  As you read this book to them, you will be establishing the trust that they can come to you when they are older to talk about these issues.”

Great encouragement!  Give the gift that will last a lifetime.  Start conversation about sexuality early with your children.