Tuesday, August 14, 2012


It's been a long time coming.

I was thirteen when Mom first took me driving. We were on a straight gravel road at my grandparent's farm. I drove a total of fifteen feet. Within those fifteen feet I gave everyone in the car whiplash and had no idea that people didn't use both feet to press the gas and brake. (Naturally, I had my left foot on the brake and my right on the gas... it worked well... I thought). After Damarise and Sarah jumped out of the car to relish being alive and on land (they enthusiastically kissed the ground and frolicked in the grass), Mom kindly told me that waiting a while wouldn't hurt and that there was no need to rush me.

Then came Africa. Most people get their driver's license by sixteen, depending on what state they live in, but I was in Mozambique – a place of massive pot holes, driving on the left side of the road, and no rules of the road. Learning how to drive there would have been like trying to learn to play piano while sitting in a canoe, it's possible but very difficult. So, I waited.

We arrived back in the US when I was seventeen. Getting Damarise to be a licensed driver was first priority. But Dad and Mom took me out driving a few times trying to move me along. I was a slow learner. Both Mom and Dad can testify to this. We spent many hours in parking lots just getting me to feel comfortable behind the wheel. Dad took both Sarah and me driving through Grandma's neighborhood. I never wanted to drive around other cars and drove twenty miles below any speed limit.  How Dad patiently put up with that, I will never know, but he was encouraging. As was Mom.

Freshman year at college came and went. Summer of '10 was spent in Missouri, again practicing driving. Dad took me out many times to drive through various parking lots, but learning was slow.

Sophomore year came and went and still driving did not progress. Mom and Dad went back to Africa and I was left to learn on my own.

But, I was left with a wonderful sister and two wonderful friends who took precious time out of their lives to help me become a more comfortable and confident driver.

Damarise graciously put up with my slow and jerky driving every Sunday afternoon after church. She also took me to many parking lots to practice. She was a big help, but at the same time it was hard for us to work together at my driving. We both learned a lot of patience!

Davey and Micah offered their help and helped tremendously!

Davey took me driving downtown one night. It was the first time I had gone on the "real" road around other cars. I was terrified. But Davey was confident. He calmly told me what to do and sat quietly while I scarily turned around curves. He also nicely told me when to speed up and not be afraid to go the speed limit. He was a great teacher! In a week he had me on the highway. I was shaking like a leaf when I was done but so happy that I had actually driven on the highway. His confidence that I could do it helped me so much!

Micah taught me how to parallel park, do a three point turn, drive through many cones backwards, and he also let me drive through many busy parts of Chattanooga on a Saturday in his car! He encouraged me on when I did not feel sure of myself at all. He drove me to the DMV the second time to get my driver's permit when I finally brought all the right paper work. And was just a very persuasive and encouraging friend telling me that I could actually get my driver's license and that it would be a wonderful thing.

Damarise, Micah, and Davey have all played a vital role in getting me to where I was on July 31st.

Tuesday, July 31st, I was sitting in the driver's seat of our van having just finished my driving test. We were a little late getting back because I accidentally passed the turn. After turning around in a parking lot and laughing with my test giver at my mistake we made it back to the DMV where I put the van in park. I sat there wondering if I had passed. My stomach was definitely feeling the nerves and my hands were starting to shake. I had knocked over a cone during the parallel parking and I was sure I had made other mistakes. I looked over at my test giver with the question burning within me. Had I passed? She looked back at me and nonchalantly said, "Well, you passed." I PASSED! I let out a little woot of joy and excitedly yelled, "YES!" I could not stop grinning as I walked back into the DMV to tell Damarise.

It has been seven years since that first try behind the wheel. And now, now I have an official driver's license in my hand! I have been blessed beyond measure to have helpful parents start me off at driving. But even more to have an amazing sister who patiently put up with my begging to drive. And two amazing friends who took me way outside of my comfort zone because they knew that I could drive if I was just given the chance and a little bit of encouragement. The thankfulness I have for their generosity in giving up their precious study time and even risking their lives is overwhelming. I feel so blessed and so encouraged.

I am a licensed driver!

A huge thank you to Dad, Mom, Damarise, Micah, and Davey! I really could not have done it without any one of you!

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