Personal Journey

Don’t Forget the Little Car Accidents

I like telling you about my car accidents. The slaps of fate, I consider my teachers. So when life smacks me down and I taste the dirt, my natural response is to share what it tasted like. This isn’t new. My very first attempt at voluntary writing (age nine) was an apology to the Almighty in response to a botched attempt at digging up a dead cat. How does one botch the exhumation of a dead animal, you wonder? Could the unearthing of rotting pet go well in any reality? It could’ve gone better, I submit.

One of the farm dogs got wind (haha) of what we kids were doing and decided he was going to get himself a little dead cat dinner. Black hefty bag and all. Digging in, girlie, don’t mind if I do…

To say I felt “bad” about my friend’s cat strewn about the farm like confetti, my little experiment gone wrong, was quite the understatement. You’re going straight to hell for this one, Kelly, straight to hell. And so’s the dog.

I penned my confession to God about how profoundly sorry I was, how things didn’t turn out the way I intended, and could God forgive?– I just had a strange curiosity as to what a dead thing looked like. I’d never been to a funeral, never died myself. It was an honest mistake made in the name of science. Kind of like Victor Frankenstein.

Meanwhile, back on track. I had another wee car issue recently. Remember the gal I rear-ended? This time I scraped a car as I pulled into a spot at the YMCA. As soon as I heard it, I went into denial mode. That did not just happen. That was nothing. I actually pulled out my how-to-write book and acted like I was going to sit there and read it because what did I have to hide? I didn’t really scrape the car next to me. It was the tiniest feathery touch. Nothing to worry about.

But my stomach did that dance it does, like when I get pulled over by a (love you so much thank you for your service) man in blue. It’s the Dance de Guilt. So I did what any selfish, overworked, underfunded, stressed out, petulant irresponsible 44 year old would do: I backed my car out and parked in another space.

As I did so, my headlights fell upon the “little scratch.” Eeeeeeck. All pretense of its being feathery left my horizon. It was a bright line the same color as my car, running the entire length. My Dance de Guilt made its way into my heart and began a stomp dance while I deliberated with God about why I should just go. Go! No one saw. It was still just a scratch, went my reasoning. I had no time to do the right thing, went my reasoning. And I was so very tired. And poor. And did I mention I was poor?

We’re not poor, not really, but I didn’t feel rich enough to write my name and number on a piece of paper and put myself at the mercy of whoever’s car I’d redesigned. I hoped the person would come out and not even see it and leave while I had it out with God, that my opportunity to do the right thing would pass, and I’d be de facto absolved.

I kept chanting no one saw, no one saw. God saw.

I tell you I did the right thing for Him. Not for any other reason than for the fact that I love God and God calls me to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly. (Like I could forget, it’s on the right margin of this very blog!) I wish I could tell you it’s my knee jerk reaction to do the right thing.

For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. – Philippians 2:13

I wrote the note and placed it on the windshield. It went something like:

I’m very sorry I scraped your car as I was pulling in the spot next to yours. I do have insurance, but if you don’t mind, I’d rather pay for the damage outright. Here is my phone number, and again I’m very sorry to have caused you trouble. – Kelly Griffiths

Waiting to hear from X Car Owner made me physically sick. I braced myself for the call from some car-obsessed victim junky hoping for a windfall, who’d start the conversation with a hit and run threat, spiced with expletives, who’d rip into me with what the hell’s wrong with you?

Just yesterday this was said from the pulpit of my church (I know you’re going to want to go there when you hear it): We’re going to make holiness sexy again. 

He actually spoke those words. No joke. Holiness. Sexy. Again.

People acting like God and it’s attractive.

I’m determined not to forget the little accident or the elderly, phlegmy-voiced man who called and said he’d buff the mark out, no worries, no cost, who said it was real nice of me to leave a note when I could have just left, and don’t worry, honey, I wouldn’t take advantage… I’m a Christian man.

A Christian man? How peculiar. You have my number because I’m a Christian woman.


Holiness. Attractive. The following theoretical scenario is part of my salvation journey, part of what convinced me to follow Christ. It was the first time holiness was sexy to me. And it goes like this:

You’re walking alone down a dark alley in the middle of the night in a shady section of town. Ahead, you see a gang of men walking toward you. (I lived in San Diego at the time, in a section where you couldn’t get a pizza delivered because it wasn’t safe.) Walking alone… a gang of men walking toward me… yes. Quite terrorizing.

Wouldn’t you feel relieved to know those men had just left a Bible study?

Yes, of course. That changed everything. Holiness, the pursuit of it– had I known the men were leaving a Bible study, my hand would be off the trigger, my heart would trust. I could smile at them and they could smile at me.

And we’d all live holy ever after. Holiness. Sexy.


Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:10



on writing, Personal Journey

Don’t Forget Summer

Warning: This post is really boring. I wrote it in July and then left it in my drafts because I hated it. Then I re-read and decided it’s worth remembering my 2016 summer. Still, unless you’re slogging through your first novel or you want to remember my boring summer, you may want to scroll down to the bottom where I share the coolest song ever.

This summer’s goal was to write the first draft of my novel. I attempted it last summer, thinking I could start and then drizzle some here and there all year until it was done.

No dice. That’s not how a novel gets written. I’ve learned a ton about how novels get– or don’t get– written. Some of it overwhelms me, like the idea of re-writing my novel at least three times. I tell myself, If Bob can run the Boston Marathon, can train in the worst conditions ever– a Cleveland winter– if Bob can hold on to his dream in spite of all the obstacles thrown at him, I too can do a hard thing– a writing marathon. I read in one of my favorite writer blogs that a would-be writer will put down a million words before her words are publish-worthy. That’s ten Stephen King-length novels or five Russian novels. Like any dreamer, I believe I’m ahead of the curve, that my success will come promptly at 500,000 words.

This was the summer schedule:

Wake at 6AMish (snooze), have my devotions, take Gabe to swimming at 7:50, and then sit down to write until I pick him up at 10 or 11. I’ve carved out a steel time cage for myself that I don’t allow anyone to break into, though some have tried. Need a ride somewhere? Can’t. Tutoring? Nope. Groceries? Starve until noon, my darlings. With two cups of dark roast coffee and a smoothie coursing through my veins, I write until I get to a thousand words. That’s the minimum Stephen King suggests for beginners who want to actually finish a novel. 3000 is recommended, but I think he meant that goal for independently wealthy empty-nesters or Emily Dickenson types who have zero friends and no responsibility whatsoever. Love you, Stephen.

When I imagined summer, I saw a blissfully open schedule. The reality this year is Gabe swims every morning from 8 to 11, Luke has weightlifting or soccer downtown every afternoon at 2:45, and Gabe swims every evening. That leaves me with a sliver of open time from 11:30 to 2 PM on the handful of days Gabe doesn’t have a swim meet. In that sliver of time I schedule friends to come over and swim. Or I schedule doctor appointments. Or I buy groceries. Usually we just have an empty fridge. It’s cool because even when I go to the store the kids always say there’s no food in the house. I’m keeping them honest.

Update: It’s fall and my school schedule is similar. I take Luke to school on the days I carpool, then I get in my steel writing cage and don’t come out until it’s time to start schooling Gabe. My steel cage isn’t sound proof. I need the cone of silence. I asked Bob to get me this. I’m hopeful.

On a completely unrelated note, I love this song.