Chinua and I are grounded. Indefinitely. Or at least until we can figure out how to pay off our immense traffic tickets. I think we've decided to beg for mercy. Let me explain.

A few months ago, Chinua and our friend Rebekah and I were headed to the costume party of some friends of ours who live in Sacramento. Chinua and I dressed as a couple from India, and we had our little Indian baby, Kenya, with us. Rebekah was dressed as a paintbrush. Someone had laquered her hair up into a blue point, and she was wearing all brown clothing, with some large sunglasses on for effect, I guess. She looked pretty wild, to say the least. Chinua had a massive turban on his head, and had painted the red mark in the middle of his forehead that signifies that a Hindu has been to their temple that day. He had also used eyeliner to darken the area around his eyes. He looked very intense. My costume was pretty mild. Just a sari.

We joked as we headed out that we would probably get pulled over, just for looking the way we did, with Chinua and Rebekah the paintbrush in the front, and me with the baby in the back. As we stopped for something to eat, we passed a police car heading the other way, and as I saw him looking at us, I realized that we were right. Fortunately for him, one of our brakelights was out, so he had an excuse for pulling us over.

It turned out that unbeknownst to Chinua, his license was expired, so the three of us had to do a quick seat switch, and we were on our way, with two fix-it tickets in our pockets and a couple of quizzical cops standing on the side of the road, scratching their heads. To make a long story short, we tried and tried to get the fix-it tickets signed, and in failing to find anyone who could do it, (it can only be done by a very specific branch of the police in San Francisco, apparently) it was shelved and forgotton about.

Until now. Now we have been informed that a collection agency is holding Chinua's license until we can pay the fine, which has swelled significantly with penalties. And in hearing about this, I thought I would just check on my own ticket situation to make sure that I had fully finished paying off a ticket from 2003. I suddenly had a bad feeling about it. Nope. Turns out my license has been suspended too.

And we're grounded. We're like two little kids, asking people for rides.

This really brings to mind a couple things.

1. It shows me once again that Chinua and I are two people who are really forgetful and a little irresponsible, trying really really hard to be responsible.

2. It brings to mind all the times that in choosing priorities, we have put the ministry urgencies before our own. I'm not trying to sound good, or virtuous, because I don't think it is. I think that we are still figuring out that taking care of our own business shouldn't get avalanched by the list of "things to do" that stretches into the horizon.

These are good lessons. Humbling and instructive. We will go to court and beg the judges for mercy. Hopefully some of the outer layers of fines can be dropped so that we can pay a lesser fine. We'll see. There's lots of hope, because the good thing about grace is that God gets us out of a lot of messes that he didn't get us into. Then again, sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes he lets us marinate in our mistakes, so we really learn.

I'm the kind of person who really likes to be mobile. I love to drive, I love to drive in solitude, and I love to be able to go where I want. I have been asking God for a long time for a way for our family to be able to have a car of our own, and so far, it has not been the right time, apparently. My discontent in sharing the few community cars we have has led to an even greater restraint. But the good thing about restraints is that when they are released, you just feel so free.