Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My God takes care of me...

Last week I shared how much I was struggling. I still am in those same ways... but at the same time, I am surrounded and filled with the assurance that my God is taking care of me. He knows my name, He holds me in His arms, He has good plans for me, and His goodness is greater than anything that life sends my way.

I was thinking this morning that life with God is full of paradoxes. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. He who seeks to save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for the sake of Him will find it. When we are weak, He is strong.

That last one is being demonstrated to me, for never in my life have I felt so weak.

I have always been pretty confident and capable... if not of doing anything that needed to be done, then of finding someone who could do it if I couldn't, finding another way around, etc.

But this accident, compiled on top of things related to my husband's ER and ICU visit last month, added to being overloaded at work... you see, before the accident, I was already facing mountains above and beyond what little-ole-me can handle. Then the accident came and simultaneously did two things: 1) Added more to the mountain  2) Made me weaker and less able to "handle things" than I've ever been.  Kind of ironic, isn't it?

But when you're facing a mountain so far above and beyond your ability to climb, there's only one path that leads to victory. 
"I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the mountains I can't climb." - Bebo Norman
 I am so thankful that God has spent the last number of years giving me an assurance, deep in my soul, that He is able.  That He is worth trusting. Always.

I have, these last few weeks (even before the accident), done what I never have before... resolutely shoved things out of my mind to be dealt with later, because I do not have the strength and stability to deal with it in that moment.  Except it hasn't been a procrastinating kind of shoving-it-off.  (I know that one well.)  Neither has it been denial.  Since I am a very visual person, I can best describe it more like taking things off my very-tiny desk, carrying them over to God's massively huge and perfectly organized desk, knowing that they are safe there until such time as He takes what He wants me to do, one by one, and lays them before me with careful instructions, when He knows I can handle it.

And that's what He's doing. It's positively amazing to me.

For example, one of the things I knew I needed to do was move a doctor's appointment I had... but I wasn't sure which number to call, wasn't sure what time to move it to, and wasn't even positive which date it actually was for... I just knew that I couldn't go the week that it was. That's a small thing, I know... shouldn't be any big deal to do. But it was just one more thing that I was supposed to do, and it was lumped with a hundred other things together in the, "I can't handle all this, God, so here it is. Please sort it out" pile.
Cast your burdens upon the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.    - Ps. 55:22

The other day, the doctor's office called me about something. I answered their question, and in three minutes, my appointment was moved. Done. Without Stress.

I keep having little things happen like this.

And then there's the big things, like buying a new car.  Because yes, my beloved little Chevy HHR was totaled. That car was just an older car in a lot of people's minds, but for me, it was a gift from my husband who, last year, wanted me to have, for the first time in my life, the car that I wanted. And I loved it.  There were a few issues... the steering column was making noises and we didn't have the money to fix it so we were living with it... I had never quite liked the fact that the window buttons were in the center console instead of on the doors... or the fact that there was no visor mirror for the driver's side or overhead light... but I still loved it. And it was gone.... so my husband was determined again that whatever car we got would be again something I wanted.

Can I tell you my weekend story?
 It might be kind of long, but God did an amazing thing taking care of me.

Car shopping isn't fun (especially to someone like me who doesn't like to shop at all), and buying that HHR that got totaled had been one of the most stressful things I'd done last year.  This was a big part of what I felt the accident was doing to me, because now I had to do it again. One more thing to make the mountain higher.

One more thing to move to God's desk.

So last week, I spent some time googling cars (and avoiding car salesmen). Of course I looked at the now-even-older Chevy HHRs again, but most of the newer ones (2011 was the last year for them) were in the $11,000 - $14,000 range, even with 50k miles or more. Coupled with what I now knew about recalls and expensive steering column issues, I could not see spending that much. Besides... there were only five manual 2011 HHRs within 200 miles, and all but one of them was $13,000 to $15,000.  I could buy a new car for very close to that!

So I bookmarked the one that was less without looking at it too closely... after all, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is, right? And I started looking at new cars. (Online, where I was safe from salesmen.)

I won't bore you with which new cars I looked at and why... suffice to say that I looked when I felt like it, and when I started to feel pressure to "figure out what to do" I laid it all down and walked away. Eventually I set an appointment to test drive a new Honda last Saturday.

I walked into the dealership Saturday, in pain from accident-strained muscles and tendons, and I told the salesman, "I am not here to buy a car today. I cannot handle any of that today... I just want to drive that car to see if I like how it drives. I want to compare it against a particular used car that I'm considering."  I had to repeat that several times over the course of two hours, and I walked out still saying that and still unsure of which car to get.

And then I got home.

And I looked up the HHR that I had bookmarked. The one with the lower price.

And I started to feel this whisper inside of me.  That's my car.

I looked at the photos more closely, and I saw all the features that I had loved about my first one that the Honda I had test driven was missing... and again I heard, That's your car.

I contacted that dealership (which was 100 miles away) to ask for more details.

And then I realized that the car was GM certified and came with 2 years of service just like the new car. And a 12-month bumper-to-bumper warranty. Even though it was already $2,000 less than all the other 2011 (uncertified) HHRs like it for sale.

And then I realized that I could extend that 12-month warranty to 4 years and still be less than all the other HHRs on the market... and less than I paid for my 3-years-older one last year, so I would not have to worry about steering column issues... and wind up with more warranty than the new Honda.

A very sweet and wonderful young woman from the dealership called me... and went all over the car for me... and called me to answer more questions again... and was sooo patient with my questions over and over and over again. And I felt more sure. That's my car.

And then I was looking at the pictures of it, and I discovered something that made me laugh in delight (and everyone else laugh at me.) The window buttons were on the doors instead of the steering column!  Remember how I said that one thing irritated me with my old one?  Feel free to laugh with/at me, but in that moment, I knew.

That's my car.

Yes, it was 100 miles away and I had not seen it in person.  And I know that when something seems too good to be true, you should beware.

But I was starting to feel like God had gone shopping for me. That He was being my personal shopper. He knew every car inside and out, He knew what I liked and needed, and He had shown me the car He'd found for me.

He was about to prove it beyond all doubt.

On Monday, I talked again with the young woman and my bank, getting everything pulled together and prepared so that when we drove down there, the sale could be quickly finalized. My husband kept saying, "I hope this car is as nice as you think it is. I hope we don't get all the way down there and you're disappointed." I totally understood where he was coming from, for I would normally be saying the same thing. The car was just too cheap.

I was also mentally shaking my head at myself over the fact that I was basically agreeing to pay their full asking price. Who does that for a car purchase?  I certainly never had, 'cause dealers will always come down at least a few hundred... especially when the used car has been on their lot for over two months. (Nobody likes manual HHRs but me, evidently.)

But I refused to worry about it, and I shrugged off all thoughts of asking them to lower their price. I just couldn't do either. I had no mental or emotional resources to try to figure that out. The price and warranty combined were good enough that, unless we got there and found that it had serious issues that the dealer hadn't mentioned, it would work. I felt confident enough to continue walking the path laid out for me.

I printed out the bank draft and paperwork to fax a copy to the dealership so that they could prepare the paperwork before we drove all that way late at night, and I thought, "I should type up a fax cover sheet with the VIN number just to make sure that there's no paperwork confusion."  So I pulled up the listing on their website one more time.

They had dropped the asking price of the car that morning.

Seriously!  What dealer DOES that?  Drops the price of a car that they've already got a potential buyer for?

The girl I was working with excitedly adjusted all the numbers for me, and I went to fax the paperwork.

And as I was driving, Francesca Battistelli's new song "Knows My Name" came on.
Spent today in a conversation
In the mirror face to face with
Somebody less than perfect
I wouldn't choose me first if
I was looking for a champion
In fact I'd understand if
You picked everyone before me...

I don't need my name in lights
I'm famous in my Father's eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name

And then the song got to this line:
I'm already so adored...
And I broke down in tears (again) as He whispered to my heart:

It's okay. I've got you. I'm taking care of you. That dropped price this morning? I did the bargaining for you. I love you. You. Are. Going. To. Be. Okay.

After that, I just smiled when my husband worried about the car not being what I wanted.  God had gone shopping for me.  No one could possibly do better.  I was still a mess... but I had the One who would never be a mess, and He was holding me and taking care of me.
He calls me chosen, free forgiven, wanted, child of the King,
His forever, held in treasure
I am loved.

Get this. The dealer's name is Valentine. And all my papers have a big heart at the top from their logo.

We picked up the car last night. In less than an hour:

- My husband poured over every inch of it with a flashlight, then declared it in remarkably good shape. 
- I test drove it and felt perfectly at home in my car.
- My husband tested it with a lot more daring than this still-shaky driver (me) felt up to.
- The girl gave me the paperwork for the bumper-to-bumper warranty.
- The finance manager gave us papers to sign.
- And I walked out with my new car.

God got me a 3 year old car in amazing shape (even with the buttons on the doors AND the mirror on the visor AND the overhead light) with a loan $40/month less than my older one, because I got this car for $8,744.  Yes... that's four to six thousand dollars less than all the other dealers are asking. Want proof? See my car at the top of the list with last week's price, before they dropped the price Monday morning. ( never got the updated lower price.)

But it wasn't the money. It would have been a good deal even $2,000 more. It was how God did the shopping and bargaining and financing and everything for me. Even something as un-spiritual and un-eternal as buying a car, and He did it all. For me. Because I am His. I have made myself His. I have given myself and my life - messy as it is - to Him, and therefore He makes my life His responsibility.

I'm already so adored...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I'm struggling right now.

I find myself wondering if I need to be transparent about it on here so I'm not fake and a fair-weather blogger giving some false impression that my life is perfect and I'm strong... or if talking about struggles is going to sound like complaining and begging for attention.

But wouldn't this blog and website be a farce if Hope was not here for me when I am struggling? Does someone out there need to know this?

Because Hope is still here. In me. Even though I feel like I'm falling apart.

Because the Infinite One lives inside of me and breathes life into me and holds me in the palm of His hand and is entirely capable of shining His Light through this blog if He chooses, regardless of what I am going through.

I was in a car accident last Thursday. The cold weather that descended on most of the US changed our Ohio roads from perfectly okay to ice-covered skating rinks for cars right at rush hour.

I was out to take my daughter to her last orchestra practice before her concert when we hit black ice.  In the span of three seconds, I went through the realization that I had lost control of the car, terror that we were about to slam into an oncoming car, torture at my daughter screaming my name, relief that we had somehow missed the car, and a strange, cool, detached curiosity at whether it was possible for the car to somehow slide between the fire hydrant and telephone pole in front of us.

All of that finished up with two thoughts, one after the other.

It's gonna be the telephone pole. This might not be good. 


Okay, that wasn't all that bad. We're okay.

In the two hours afterward, as I spoke with the police and my husband and waited for a tow truck, I was shaking from the cold, concerned about my daughter, etc... and I probably appeared more calm, cool, and collected than I am right now.

We're still waiting for confirmation that the car was totaled, and my daughter and I are physically okay other than some slight stiffness.

And yet...

I am struggling. Mentally and Emotionally. This isn't the first accident I've been in, but I have never been affected like this. This is also the first car accident that happened slowly enough for me to go through that many emotions before it was even over. Maybe that's got something to do with it. I find myself wishing it had been faster... that I had no memory of those moments, because they keep playing over and over again in my mind.

In some moments, I feel fine and normal and ready to put this behind me, and in other moments I am grasping for the confidence that I have known for most of my life.

Two days after the accident, I had to drive our minivan to take this same daughter to her concert, and I was fine. Yesterday I had to drive our other tiny rear-wheel-drive car on the same roads, and I was a shaking, sobbing wreck by the time I got there.

Yesterday morning I was working at my online job and moving at a good pace.
This morning, I'm sitting here looking for answers... tears pouring down my face as I read about how PTSD often hits people after car accidents... particularly when there are not serious physical injuries. And I wonder.

And so I turn on my audio copy of the Psalms.

And the words wash over me.

"Do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in You."

"In the day of trouble, He will keep me safe in His dwelling.
He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock."

"Though I have seen trouble, You will restore my life again. You will bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more."

"Blessed are those who strength is in You. They go from strength to strength."

"For great is His love toward us
And the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever."

"It is better to trust in the Lord than to trust in man."

"The Lord is my strength and my defense.
He has become my salvation.
Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous."

"Save me, for I am Yours."

"You will restore my soul."

"I rise before dawn and cry for help. I have put my hope in Your word. Hear my voice in accordance with Your love."

"Your compassion, Lord, is great. Preserve my life according to Your love."

"I remain confident of this. I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart.
Wait for the Lord."

"Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose Hope is in the Lord their God.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down."

This is the reality of the gospel... that Hope is always calling, because He is always there... and He is always greater... and He is always loving... and He is always able... so, so able to carry me through this and comfort me and sustain me and restore me.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.                                       - Psalm 121

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good
And His love endures forever.
Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion