In the past, when I did my “30 Days of Thanks”, I always liked that it concluded on my birthday, November 30. 🙂
This year, I thought it would be fitting that I write a thankful post on this day even though I abandoned 30 Days of Thanks in 2013 here on my blog.
As I’ve shared, the last few years have been tough … and the last few months have held their own challenges. While I am so incredibly thankful we were able to make a fresh start for our family and move to another state when my husband finally got a job, the consequences of unemployment, dual households for 6 months, fixing up a neglected house for the market, that house not selling, and then moving 220 miles away have taken a financial toll. Add to that the vehicle problems and other unforeseen issues, we just can’t seem to catch a break.
Last week, after another vehicle break down that led to my own near break down, I decided to pray that we’d have a mini-van for our Thanksgiving trip: 700 miles to go visit my parents and family in Tennessee. I knew it was crazy, impossible even … but didn’t God’s Word say “NOTHING is impossible”. I almost issued it as a challenge to God, kind of like, I dare you, God, to do this thing …
But then, I also decided perhaps God wanted me to take things into my own hands … which I should know from experience NEVER bodes well. Ever. But I wondered if maybe God had a used minivan out there with my name on it … and I just had to go find it. After all, God wasn’t just going to drop a vehicle into our laps.
So, last Friday (over a week ago), I went car shopping! I found two options that would accept our broken down Buick as a down payment and give us monthly payments that were not really in our budget but fairly low. I somehow had this disillusion that it would solve our problems. So, I confidently presented the options to my husband … and he promptly said NO WAY! He had found a mechanic to try in the meantime by recommendation of someone he knew … and we got the problematic car to him instead.
And so, on Wednesday morning, we set out on our 700 mile trip, cramped into our little – but reliable Saturn Vue – the one that’s missing a hub cap and has no CD player or radio. We crammed our 6 foot tall boy into a back seat beside his 2 sisters (one of whom is in still in a car seat) and stuffed the luggage all around us in every available nook and cranny. But overall, my family was cheerful … everyone, except ME. I will attest that it is possible to drive 7oo miles – 12 1/2 hours – with your entire family without saying more than the necessary sentences because that is exactly what I did. I wasn’t mad at anyone, I was just kind of mad about my circumstances; I knew God would not answer my prayer and yet again, I’d be the one having to “suffer” in my spoiled American way. Apparently, that was the lesson God wanted me to learn, and I was going to learn it … but I wasn’t going to like it.
Anyway, I am thankful we made it to Tennessee safely. On Thursday, I had the opportunity to spend the entire day with my parents while Dan and the older kids went to visit his brother in a nearby city. I decided to stay home and rest (and took a 3 hour nap!) … and in sharing some of our daily life with my parents, I told them about our car situation (they really already knew a lot of it) and how I spent many days just taxi-ing my family around town to get everyone where they had to be. I wasn’t really complaining, I was just telling them what I do and how things ran in our new home.
My dad went to run some errands later that day and drove by a car dealership that he has dealt with many times … and spied a mini-van for sale there. I am not sure when or how he decided that he’d try to get it for us … but today, we ended up test-driving the mini-van – and my dad traded in an old SUV he’s been trying to sell for it! Basically, he gave us a mini-van … and I will be driving home those 700 miles tomorrow in a Chevy Venture!
Since it is a used mini-van, we really wanted to be sure it was going to be a good choice … and in a way, I was yet again hoping for a sign. When I went to go see the van for the first time, I was actually the only one to notice that the car had a little “Christian fish” on the back … perhaps my SIGN from God that a Christian family ought to be driving this vehicle??!! I’m not sure if that is in any way biblically or theologically accurate, but I am taking it that God had my name specifically on this mini-van!
And so, I sit here tonight, on my birthday, humbled, grateful, amazed … and perhaps a little ashamed. My doubts and frustrations overtook me for a while … my faith – though I desperately tried to hold on to it – floundered just a little … but GOD was still good to me even though I challenged Him.
In the end, not only do I now see that my name might have been written on my new mini-van … but my name is also written on His heart.