Hot Rod

Goodbye, Hello

Two weeks ago I said goodbye to an old friend.

You might recognize her.

My Chevrolet was with me for sixteen years, 247,000 miles, and I drove her across ten states. The majority of those miles were driven across Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. But I also drove my pickup across Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota on an MLB tour with my best friend Ryan, and took her up to Nebraska to see Baylor play in the College World Series in summer of 2005.

When we were living in Kansas, I packed my cab full of youth ministry gear for two and half years, driving between De Soto and Gardner along Kill Creek Road and Waverly Road to greet a few teenagers in a congregant’s home or in a middle school gym, play a few games, and host a Bible study alongside some other adult leaders who became my friends.

I also used this truck to haul my lawn equipment around the Kansas City area for a couple of summers, hustling to earn a few bucks, lifting a very heavy mower in and out of the bed of the pickup.

Once we moved to Fort Worth, I’d go through spells where students would give me a hard time because of this truck, pointing out my squeeky shocks or a knocking engine, or the rust visible on the rocker panels.

In Waco, she began to smoke, putting out a cloud thicker than the screen you could deploy in the arcade game Spy Hunter. To my surprise, a local repair shop helped remedy that problem, and I got another two years out of my vehicle. When my truck began breaking down, I would ask friends to pray for her, and for God’s help as I discerned what to do if the day came when I turned the key and she wouldn’t crank.

The Silverado was the first vehicle I purchased with money my household earned. My dad helped me negotiate the deal, and I’ll be forever grateful. My first conversation with a car salesman, which took place a few months prior to the truck purchase on a Ford lot in Garland, Texas, didn’t go so well. At Peltier Chevrolet in Tyler, we landed on a fair price, got a decent interest rate, and I paid the car off in less than five years.

I drove Molly to the hospital in this truck early in the morning on the day our first child was born, and drove them both home in this pickup a few days later.

When she was old enough to come along with me to work, Joy rode in the back seat of the pickup in the predawn hours when I was working for a school bus company. She was always happier in the car seat, when the truck was moving. She was with me one day on the way home from the bus lot when I was clocked going 50 mph in a 35 mph zone; the officer said hello to her in the back seat.

The whole family came along with me to pick up my new-to-me vehicle, a 2012 Ford Mustang. We all rode along on the test drive. I have a few dings to fix and an interior side panel that I’ll have to repair. But she runs real nice, and the price was to my liking. I’ve been setting aside money for a new vehicle for about five years, occassionally having to dip into that fund to take care of a higher priority or pressing commitment, all while hoping the Chevy would get me a little further down the road.

A car is a wonderful thing, if you are lucky to have one. A lot of time gets spent in the car, driving to and from work, going to see friends, picking up groceries, running errands. Some of the best conversations I’ve had took place on the road, on the way to see family or to pick up BBQ. I’ve listened to sermons, podcasts, and plenty of music on the sound system of an automobile. There’s been soul-level work that’s gone on in my car. My truck was more than just a tool to get me from here to there. Over time, the pickup became a place of comfort, a refuge, a second home.

I’m hoping the same for my next vehicle. It’s definitely a hit with my kids. For the first time all school year they’ve asked me to drop them off in the mornings.

Thanks to a gift from my sister, my Chevy featured a bumper sticker that said, “I used to be cool.”

Now that I’m behind the wheel of the Mustang, looks like I’m cool again.

Book Notes

I finally made some progress in David W. Blight’s Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom. I’ve finished Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars: Heir to the Empire, and then tried my hand at another Star Wars novel—which was terrible. I then shifted my focus to Greg Kot’s Wilco: Learning How to Die, which I devoured, and began reading Dean Nelson’s Talk to Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro.

Sights and Sounds

We finished the fourth episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney +). I’ll keep watching, but I really don’t like the plot trajectory, think the story is a mess, and find the social commentary to be shallow and cliche’. It’s bad television.

Movies? I have recently watched Equals (2015) and Dragon Inn (1967).

Last Words

This is my first newsletter in two weeks, so I won’t list all the new items. This week: Jesus telling a dad joke, great shots of a lava flow, and a Wendell Berry poem, illustrated.

Before I go, standard copy.

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Be well this week. Bless others.


P. S. - We took this picture on Easter Sunday. I like it.