Monday, April 20, 2009

The Not so Short Details

Fair warning, this post is VERY long. You chose it, so no complaining. Only two people said that they wanted a couple of smaller posts, and one was Handsome. I had better not make it longer by blabbing on...

I wanted to tell you about the amazing work that God has been doing in our a little more detail.

To start, I have to go back a little. To the beginning. Often, and I would even say most times, we don't recognize the beginning as a start to anything. We don't know ahead of time that it will become something more than just a thought or a tiny lesson to be learned and discovered in the mind. We don't know that God will give us life application at the start.

I mentioned on my blog a few months back that God was working on me in the area of generosity. This was actually the beginning. There were a lot of "rabbit trails of learning" in this area that had to do with the way we use our resources. One big change that was decided was the area of debt. Having debt of any kind was not something that grew us closer to God. First of all, it gives someone else control of our lives in some ways. Secondly, the more debt we have, the more limited we are in our giving of money that already belongs to God. It's like I am taking something that is His and putting my name on it for months to come. Does that make sense?

Another thing that stood out to me during a sermon that I listened to online from a former pastor was that when we take out a debt or borrow money for something it does two things. First, it doesn't allow God to provide it for us. Second, it doesn't give Him the opportunity to tell us no. If the thing that we feel a need for is something that God wants to let us have, and He loves to bless His children with gifts here on Earth too, then He will provide it for us. If not, then perhaps He doesn't want us to have it.

Who can deny an answer like that?! You can't even wonder your answer there. Either He will provide and say yes, or He won't provide and will say no or wait.

Okay. I can deal with that. That all sounds good to me and makes sense with scripture. (Forgive me for not remembering all the scripture that went with. I am not good at remembering anything that requires specifics!)

So, lets go forward a little...but don't go too far ahead.

Smiles is a big boy. He is ready to get his big boy car seat. We buy Curly a new one (since the booster seats are much cheaper and she is nearly three). Once his big seat is placed in the car the way it is supposed to be, I am in pain. I am not a short girl and because of the angle of our seats among a few other things, I am at the dashboard sitting in a position that is almost leaning forward a little. Seriously. Not good. Major knots in my back after mere minutes in the car each drive that contains our whole family. (When it's just me and the kids we are fine because the passenger seat is open.)

Of course the first thought is then, we need to get a family car that fits more. This is not the only issue with our small Kia Spectra. I love that car by the way. (In case you wondered.) Other issues are that we can't fit the dog in with us, if we have our whole family in the car we cannot take anyone with us anywhere. I often have younger siblings that I want to bring home to stay the night or take along somewhere and they can't drive yet. If Nana wants to go somewhere with us, we have to take separate cars. It just isn't working and we know it. We had been thinking for some time about needing to get a larger car. Especially with plans for a larger family in our future.

Then the reminder comes.

I wanted to honor God. My heart feels that to get a loan would not be in line with that. This is a need, not a desire. We don't have the money to do this without a loan.

A choice was at hand. I told my Handsome that I would survive. We would ask God to provide for us and either He would do that, or He would make things work the way they were. So on we went. I decided to put my ever growing baby back into the little carried car seat for now. He wasn't quite past it's weight limit, so we would be able to make that work for now. After that we would have to only go on very short trips as a family until we either got a new car, or Smiles turned one and could face forward. In August.

We had made the choice to stick with the thing that honored our integrity and not the perfectly understandable other choice. I don't know if I know anyone who would have thought anything of it had we made that choice to get a loan for a family car. It would have been perfectly normal and understandable. We need one. Not just for this reason, but we need one for our future anyway.

Okay. The choice was made and we stuck to it. We didn't waiver. We didn't have any second thoughts about our choice. It was right because we were staying in line with our convictions. All was well.

One morning in mid March I got up when Handsome got up. Kind of unusual for me to actually stay up, but I thought nothing of that. I was in the shower. When I got out I saw a message on the machine (yes, we have an old answering machine at our fancy voice mail). I listened to it and knew right away from the light and airy tone that Handsome had been in no small accident. If it had been a little accident that hadn't caused damage I know I probably would have heard anger in his voice and he would have been very ticked off. Nope. This was his peaceful, trying to keep me from worry voice. I knew that it wasn't good and considered that the car probably wasn't going to make it.

Before I even talked to him.

So, I called him. He was close to home, as most accidents are. I was glad because he drives VERY far to and from work daily and I often worry about his commute. He was fine and so was the other person involved....but the car? Well, he thought that we were probably talking totaled.

I went to get him with the kids. We prayed for him and his nerves. We prayed for his body. I was at peace with the whole thing. If you know me, you will know that this in not in line with my nature. I worry. A lot. I get worked up about things like this. But I was at peace. And you know what? I feel bad saying it, but the thought did cross my mind that perhaps this was God's way of providing for our family car. I thought, well, perhaps God is telling me that it's okay to take out a small loan for the family car we need.

So, we waited the next day for the terrible pain that everyone told him would come. It didn't come. He had a sore neck, but that was it. It was gone after two days. (I still think he should go and get things checked, but he is a man and can make that choice for himself.) He recovered just fine.

We went to get a rental car. The insurance pays for this. We were supposed to get a small four door car...the cheapest that they have. (That was fine for Handsome to commute in, we were not complaining.) We got there and the guy asked if we would like to try the Dodge Journey. That's a crossover vehicle that seats seven, pictured below.

Taken from Motor Trend website.

We said, "No thanks." He persisted. Are you sure? It's a really neat car...blah, blah, blah. "No, thanks. It's just for commuting."

He then said, "Well, how about if we give it to you for the same price that your insurance covers?"

"Ummm... oooohhhh kkkkk?"

"Well, we don't actually have your car here and this is the ONLY one we have."

"Sure. We will take it if the insurance covers it." We just had to pay the tax, which we would have had to pay anyway.

That was cool thing number one. We got to have a family car while we were waiting for our insurance to tell us what our next step was. Within two or three days they told us that our car was totalled and they would be back with us in a couple of days about the amount they were going to give us for it. We waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Finally they called a couple weeks later with a number for us. We were dreading this part because we knew that it wasn't going to be a very big number. We had looked our car up to see what we could expect. I had also heard plenty of stories about getting less than what you think you should from the insurance company.

That final number? It was a little bigger than what we had anticipated. Just a little. Like two thousand dollars bigger!

Okay. We can deal with that. =) Our loan will not have to be very big. We will have it payed off pretty quickly.

Then Handsome got his bonus. There was another nice chunk. (If taxes on bonuses weren't so high it would have been bigger, but hey...what's 40%...)

There are some other areas that we had extra $ in the last two months, but lets just say that God was working on us in the generosity department as well, so not all was for us and our car. Quite a bit still went to God's stuff. (I just don't want you to think that we took all that God provided for ourselves and selfish purposes because often these things are not for us. You have to ask each and every time. I will not, however, give any details on this because I think that giving is between the giver and God. Just know that we were careful in all of this to make sure that we knew what was for us and what was not.)

Then came the search for a car. We had no idea what we wanted. In my mind I figured we would go with a minivan. I despise the SUV not only for the gas, but also for the bulkiness of it. I like my small car and if I could fit all that I need to in there I would love to stay with that. Alas, I cannot.

First stop was our local P-ville Kia dealership. I have nothing but awesome things to say about them. When we bought our Spectra the guy that we worked with was wonderful and we loved him. Kia comes with free car washing at the dealer forever. Forever, no joke. So, we take our car in from time to time. Seriously, two years or so after we had purchased our car, we went in to get it washed. We were on our way home from a trip to see Gramps and GG in the dusty, dirty land of Idaho. You know, where them potatoes grow?

Well, it turned out that the carwash part was closed and Phillip came out as we were pulling in and said hello to us by name and informed us of this unfortunate issue, but took it and washed it for us. Let me point out that it was a disaster of a car at this point and he had to do some rubbing and take it through the wash no less than twice...perhaps more. He only mentioned twice as he joked with us that we must have had some trip. Naturally, with the amazing deal we got on our Spectra (with the help of Chalupa), we wanted to go there first.

Sadly, our Phil was gone. He had changed dealerships four months prior. We did get to talk with a very nice young man named Tyler though, who was friends with Phillip and called him for us to see if he had anything. There were a couple of options, but they were in the Tahoe range of things...too big for me. It sounded like there were a couple of options, but it was a little bit of a drive, so we thought we would check around town first. Tyler knew our price range.

OOOps! I forgot to tell you one of the most important parts!

So, before looking, we really...okay, I really...felt like God wanted us to work with the money he had given and provided. He had given us enough to get something that would work for us. I really felt like he gave me a reality check and said, "I didn't bring you this far ahead of what you were planning just so that you could get a loan. I wasn't giving you permission. I was telling you that I wanted to provide." So...with the reluctance of my minivan hating husband, we set out on this hunt with a price range that was a bit lower than what he thought would be good for what we needed.

Okay, sorry....back to the story. So, Tyler (and I will give you his last name gladly if you want to know and are local, just e-mail me or comment with the question) said he only had one thing that he thought might work in our price range. We had told him we needed to seat at least 7. Two car seats and two adults take up the 5 passenger cars all by themselves. He mentioned the Rondo, which is made by Kia of course. (Did I mention I am a Kia lover?) When we looked inside it was perfect. It's a smaller crossover than the Journey, which I decided wasn't my cup of tea during my 27 days of driving it. Even if it did function well for me. And it wasn't in our price range anyway. see, the issue with the Rondo is that it comes with the option of third row seating. It's not standard. We had looked at an '09 first to see if it was something that we thought might work and then when he checked, the used ones that they had were not third row seated. You know what's awesome? He didn't even try to sell us on the '09! He just said that he didn't have any with the third row seats and sent us to another dealership that has lots of used cars that was nearby. (No, I am not oblivious to the fact that he would get a little money for that referral if we did buy from the guy. Just saying it was great that he didn't try to sell us on more.) He was also very nice about at least telling me that he would try to find one for us in our price range later. And let me tell you- I got darn close to laughed at later.

We drove quite a few minivans after that. They were just not very great. It seemed that the price range that we were in did not suite the minivan well. But you know what? I would have been okay with that had it been where I felt that God wanted us to be with our purchase. My prayer through the whole process was that I would be in the will of God, and I think that often it is important for us to be humble and choose function over what causes excitement. I wanted to be in line with this. My issue was that none of these felt like they were functioning well for me. It was going to be an adjustment for me to go from my small car with clear vision, to a van that had tinted windows and different seating. I was ready for that. But they didn't feel right. They didn't feel like they were very high quality.

I'm not saying that no van would. What I am saying is that the vans in our price range were not running well. They weren't feeling smooth and I wasn't feeling good about them.

My mind kept saying, look for that Rondo. You really like that car and the Kia guy seemed to think it was in your price range. (If we think about it this does make sense. Minivans are more expensive off the lot. A used one would be similar then. Minivan = more expensive for the quality of drive. If only they had started making the Rondo earlier than 2007...)

I called Chalupa and asked him to see if there were any Rondo's in our price range online that did have the third row of seats. He didn't find much at that point (this was the Friday before Easter), so we grabbed some lunch and went back to their house where the kids were being watched to search online for anything and then go home. We found one about a half hour away that looked like it was close to our price, so we drove up for a test drive and to talk $.

When we drove it, we really loved it even more. The interior was clearly used well by some children, or at the least a couple of not so careful adults, but we didn't have an issue with that. We are looking for function here. This car feels like my little one when I drive it! It's just longer. This car is everything that I would want (remember, that's just a want there- not need) in a car. We just had to get them on the numbers we had.

As we sat there, things weren't working for me. It sometimes happens so fast that you get lost in the moment. Handsome knew where I stood with the $, but since it wasn't really his conviction, he would only stick with it as far as I led him to. They offered a little above the $ we had in cash, which was really close to the price they were asking, we just needed that "out the door" (after taxes and licensing). We had an offer for a couple thousand that could be loaned to us until next year with no interest. It wouldn't be an issue at all. (Not from the car dealership of course. This was a personal loan offer.) Handsome was on board with this offer.

The people at this dealership then sent over this "guy" from over in the other room. You know, the ones that come over and start to small talk with you and talk about how cute your kid is and you're like...GET to your point already! I am not a fool and I do not want to deal with your phoney attitude that makes us feel like you are pretending to care. I didn't digg this guy at all. He wasn't rude or anything, I just have that special spiritual gifting that helps me see motives and hearts ...well, it didn't help me to enjoy this man. That's for sure.

The numbers came up on our end, but they were not willing to move. I was glad for this. The car was wonderful. I wanted the car. I was sold on the car. What I wasn't sold on was the price. I felt that we needed to be able to pay cash for this car. Right now. Not take out any type of loan. Even just $1,000. I was glad when we walked, it gave me time to clear my head and really seek the Lord's will here. To see if it was okay to borrow at all, or if He had something else in mind.

(As I recap on all this, I just have to say that I don't realize how dense I am sometimes! Wow, Lord. You are really patient with me. How could I not have understood these things from the start? HELLO! Wake up lady!)

You know what He said? He told me that He didn't bring us this far, give us this much to work with over what we expected, just so that we could borrow over that. He gave us all that we needed and would provide the right car at that price. And we would be pleased with it. Our Father gives good gifts when He wants to. (This is something that I have a really hard time with becasue I can be very extreme. I often feel like I should have only the necessary and I don't like to feel even the hint of materialism. But in this, I DO feel that I can get legalistic. See? I know that I have areas where I do things out of legalism and not a heart of conviction from the Lord.)

The next days were hard. Very hard. You see, it's easy to trust God to provide for the big things, but to wait for Him to provide something when what you want is in your reach all on your own...well, that's harder. Especially something so trivial. Something that isn't that important. As I stated in a previous post, I felt alone in my choice. I felt that nobody understood fully. It seemed like a crazy thing to wait for because the car was already a really good deal. We knew that from looking later. And it wasn't like we couldn't afford it. We had planned to change our payments on our Spectra so that we were paying our normal payment, plus nearly 1 1/2 times that in extra principle so that we could pay it off quickly. We were also changing some other things to add extra cash to our monthly income. (Remember all that generosity stuff...) We could afford this quickly.

I just felt so alone. I just felt so much lack of understanding, even in the choices of my friends and family to support me. "Are you sure that's the car?" "Are you sure you don't want to just borrow that $?" "Well, maybe God is just telling you that right now and it could change later."

No. My heart is fully right with Him in this situation. I know that I just need to trust and to let Him provide.

"Lord, are you sure that I don't just need to get the minivan? Are you sure I am not expecting too much? If I am not hearing you right because of something that isn't in line with my heart, please make it clear to me. Please change my heart. Please speak the truth and your desire for me here."

No change.

And so I wait. I choose to trust you above all those around me Lord. My enemy speaks in my ear and tells me that I am looney. That I am not hearing you. But I trust in you and know that you are teaching me to trust you in the small things too. You are teaching me to hear your voice above all those around me so that in the future I will listen to you when it is a big deal. You are giving me an opportunity to share a story of trust in You even when it isn't practical or understandable by normal standards. When it doesn't make sense at all. I want to stand in Your blessing and learn the lesson you have set before me. No matter what the outcome or where it comes from.

So, that was all written before God followed through. That last paragraph wasn't supposed to be part of this post, but I thought I would let it remain. I want to share all of the emotion with you. It was all part of the process and lesson. Now let me tell you how the story is completed.

On Thursday night I was having a really hard time with all of it. Just with trusting my "ears" in hearing God's voice and struggling with that choice to not look for a different car. I asked my best friend to pray a little extra for me that night and I was going to as well. She had asked me to pray for her in a certain area as well. I guess it was a prayer night =). I had planned on praying with my husband not too long after I had asked her. He was almost home.

When he got home, things didn't go as they normally would have. We were grumpy with each other and I knew that there was something spiritual going on there. I knew that we were being prevented from praying about this together because my plan had been a large chunk of time devoted to it. I mostly ended up praying alone. We did pray about it together, it just wasn't then time that I had hoped for. It was slightly soured. We tried, but we are imperfect beings.

The next afternoon I was finishing up folding a boat load of laundry, or perhaps a couch load, with my Mom. She had spent the day with us and helped me catch up on all the things that had gone undone with the sickness that we had encountered and then the car searching. It felt great to have caught up so much. Then I got a phone call.

Someone had heard about and bought our car, the one that we test drove but couldn't get to our price range because it was already an amazing deal. This someone bought our car and told us that they wanted to sell it to us for a certain price that was only a little higher than what we had in cash. They wanted to sell it to us next month after we had time to save up the money. This someone was going to take care of the taxes on this car for us so that we could have it. They wanted us to borrow this car until next month when we bought it.


I didn't know what to say at first. Partly I wasn't sure if this was the miracle that I had been waiting for. Was this okay God? Then my Mom talked some sense into me and through an e-mail to Vicky I was further convinced. Yes, I am that thick headed. I had to be "convinced" that God's work was okay. Vicky reminded me that God has a way of teaching us lots of different things in the same lesson. God had worked on my giving a lot, and now He just might be working on my receiving too. (I do have a hard time with that as well.) And I also realized that God hardly ever works in the way we expect Him to. This definitely wasn't what I expected.

Since this post is so long just to tell you the details of the story, I will have to share with you later some of the things that I have learned through it. Not the least of which is that when you choose to honor God above all else, you will never be disappointed.


Mom (Lisa) said...

You should post a pic of this new Kia so we can see it!

Love all the green!

Raising Olives said...

Thanks for sharing your journey. It is amazing how slow we sometimes are. God has miraculously provided for our family time and time and time again and yet, often we fret.

I have a few posts that I'm working on relating to this same topic of trusting God to provide. God amazed us this weekend with a surprise when we got home from our trip. Amazing how much love there is within the body of Christ.


P.S. Just curious, do you also believe that you shouldn't borrow for a home? Feel free not to answer if I'm being too nosy.

Laurel said...

GREAT story!

I totally understand holding on to convictions that most of your friends don't understand, and even convictions that even your husband isn't quite as convicted about. (My hubby always thanks me later.)

Thanks for sharing the WHOLE story.

mama of 13

Laurel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amelia said...

What an INSPIRING testimony of God's faithfulness and perfect timing. Would you believe it if I told you we are in the middle of pursuing a good, (Honda) used minivan for our growing family/childcare use? We are hoping to pay cash and now I feel more strongly than ever that if it is supposed to happen, it will happen in the way that falls in line with our convictions. Thank you for your transparency in sharing this story.

Stefanie said...

Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

Grandma S (Sheryl) said...

What a great experience! Thanks so much for sharing it with us all. You learned that as long as you are on God's side, you are never alone...regardless of who understands us or doesn't. It's a tough lesson to learn sometimes, but always worthwhile. You'll remember it the next time you find yourself in a place where you need to "listen to that still, small voice." Love ya!

Sunny said...

Okay, start feeling special! This is the first time I've ever left a comment on someone's shin-dig. I'm also going through a time of trust, and some days I do good, and some days I do not-so-good. While I know my situation isn't a big deal for some people, it is to me. But that's the way God works. He gives you what you need to grow and learn, not what someone else needs. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiances while you learn to accept what God is offering you. Your example of trust and faith is well needed inspriration and encouragement for us all.