Category Archives: Amen To That

The Honda Pilot

Something crazy happened yesterday.

A woman from Northern California drove all the way down to San Diego and handed us the keys to her family’s Honda Pilot for us to use for the rest of the time we are here in the states before we head to Italy. I had never met or spoken to her before today.

I told you. CRAZY! Right?!

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The Conflict

So if you will remember, I posted on my Facebook page about a week ago:

CAN ANYONE HELP? Thank you everyone for your excitement and prayers about our move to Italy! We really do mean it… if you head out to Italy (or anywhere in Europe really) please let us know and we will do our best to meet up with you or flat out host you while you visit. Since we are on a crazy roll… seems our prayers worked and Brian got a great offer on his Prius today so his car is sold!!! Which is awesome… BUT that means he has no car. Umm… yeah. So by some crazy chance does anyone in our circle of friends or friends of friends have a car we can borrow for the next 6-10weeks? Any car even a beater would work (so long as it works) because it is just his commuter car. Any leads would be appreciated. Thank you!!!

A friend of ours contacted us wanting to allow us use of her husbands car because he is deployed and the car is just sitting being stored and unused. We thought that would be perfect! Several other families offered to help and we were so appreciative but they came with various stipulations that would have been difficult for both parties to maneuver around… not impossible, but not cut and dry like the case with this car of the deployed spouse.

We were about to drive up to pick up the car this past Friday, when we get a call saying that borrowing the car wasn’t going to work out after all because of circumstances beyond her control.  I can’t tell you why but that didn’t panic me. I told her not to worry because God would provide us with a car.

To be honest I kind of forgot about the car situation since it fell through on Friday. We’ve got the whole Italy move going on and having moved in with my in-laws this week. My husband turned thirty this weekend and a big party was in the works to celebrate. Then the cherry on top of a busy weekend was discovering lice in my daughters hair… so the car just wasn’t at the forefront of my worries even though it was a huge need (I’ll post about how we quickly got rid of the lice another time because we learned a lot of good stuff from some professionals).

We turned in our minivan to to be shipped to Italy two weeks ago and we’ve been using one of Brian’s parents cars to get by. Then Brian sold his car a week ago and we’ve had a loaner car for him to commute to work in but we’d have to return it soon because it too was being sold. So really how many cars can one family borrow in such a short amount of time?!

The Climax

Come Sunday afternoon… in the midst of the lice fiasco, I get a text from the same friend with the deployed spouse asking if we still needed a car? UMMM… YES PLEASE... thinking that borrowing her husbands car was somehow going to end up working. She then informs me that her husbands parents (her in-laws whom she is staying with in Northern California while her husband is deployed) would like to lend us their Honda Pilot if we were willing to take it.

Me: I don’t think I understand?! They want to lend us their car? They don’t even know us and how would we get the car if it is in Northern California? 

Her: My MIL will drive it down to you. 

Me: That is crazy! Who would do that?! And how would she get home?

Her: She just asks you drive her to the airport so she can get home by tomorrow night because she has a class she doesn’t want to miss on Tuesday. 

Me: Wait, what?! THAT IS CRAZY! She is going to fly back? And she is going to get this to us by tomorrow? 

Her: Yes. I know it sounds crazy. It sounded crazy to me too. They told me at lunch today that they had been praying about how they could help you guys, I had no idea they were praying about it, but ever since I told them I was upset that we weren’t able to help you with my husbands car they got to praying. And they said the Lord confirmed in their hearts that they needed to lend you their car. 

Me: I just don’t know what to say. I just think it is too crazy to let them do that. I’ll have to talk to Brian and get back to you.

Her: Okay. Call me back soon because she would like to book her flight asap… since you know, it’s tomorrow.

WHAT?! TELL ME WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH THAT INFORMATION?!!!

So I talked to Brian and my own in-laws (whom we too are currently living with while we transition to Italy) and we all kind of didn’t know how to respond. An initial thought that came up was to try and put the feelers out one more time to our friends and see if anyone local had another car we could use… you know before one had to come for us from the other end of the state.

Me: I know a lot of people here in San Diego, you’d think I would be able to find someone with a car locally. This just seems like too crazy a way to have this prayer answered. 

In saying these words audibly as we processed, a couple of thoughts came racing to my mind:

  1. This was an answer to prayer. Many people have already begun praying for our journey and our needs and although this was crazy, it was in fact an answer to prayer.
  2. God can do crazy things in ways we can’t even begin to imagine! It says so in His word: Eph3-20.21-640x640
  3. I was trying to steal God’s glory. If I ignored this offer and went about re-posting our need for a car more than likely I could find someone with a car to lend. But if that were the case, who would get the glory? I would… because “I know a lot of people…” Who does? I DO. So it would be my efforts and my connections whom I would remain thinking I relied on, instead of the Lord, in spite of the many prayers that have been lifted on our behalf in his name.

So it seemed pretty clear. As crazy as it sounds, we had to accept this car.

I don’t yet understand why this car… from this person… who doesn’t even know me?!!! But as I met this kind hearted stranger today it was clear it didn’t matter that she didn’t know me or my husband, all that mattered was that she knew Him. She knew Jesus. And she was simply being obedient to drive down and lend us a car. That was a lot less convenient than what was being asked of me- which was simply to be gracious and receive the car from her… yet I was the one sitting here thinking this is too crazy!

As quickly as she arrived with the car, she left.

I drove her to the airport in the red Honda Pilot she delivered no more than an hour after she arrived. We are so grateful to their family and to this answer to prayer. What’s also crazy is that this whole time I was thinking we’d be getting a commuter car for Brian and instead we got the family car we could fit the whole family in.

The Resolution

As I drove back home from the airport, I had a couple of thoughts pressed upon me from the Lord:

  • I have to be willing to receive His answers to prayer in the manner he chooses to answer them. That means how I think things will play out might not be the plan God has in mind. No matter how crazy it sounds.
  • God is faithful to remember us and our needs in his timing. I had forgotten about the car dilemma in the business of the weekend and God was still faithful. I wouldn’t have chosen the end of this lice infested weekend to be the time to receive an out of town guest with a car, but that is how it worked out to meet our needs.
  • I can’t rely on me and who I know apart from Him. In a couple of months I will be unable to simply post and ask friends to help because no one I know will be there to help. So I need to remember this moment and know that God doesn’t need me to know anyone in order to help me. So long as I know Him… and rest in his provision… he will work it all out.

There was terrible traffic on the way home, thanks to the rain, so I exited the freeway early in La Mesa planning to drive side streets the rest of the way home. On my detour I saw a sign that pointed to Mt. Helix and did something that felt a little daring to me at the time- I followed the sign. I abandoned the course home and decided to check out the top of the mountain. I have seen beautiful pictures of the top before, but have never been myself. What I found was breathtaking. The views of the San Diego stretched 360 degrees around me, even all the way to the ocean and at the height of it all… the cross. AMAZING.

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I pray that this would be only the beginning of the many ways that we would be able to point to God and give him the glory in this crazy adventure that is Italy. Praise Him! There truly is no other way to explain this experience.

Thanks for the Honda Pilot!

Don’t Toss Your Christmas Cards Out!

If you are like most people, I would venture to say all your Christmas stuff is still out (because it’s only New Year) and you will try to put most of it away this coming weekend (if you are good). When the time does come to put Christmas away, I have struggled knowing what to do with all the wonderful Christmas cards I get in the mail. I love everyone of them! And nowadays most of them come with photos of family and friends on them… so it just feels wrong to toss them out. Is it just me?! Here is 2014’s very full Christmas card wreathe.

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I wanted to share something we started doing with our Christmas cards a couple of years ago. After Christmas I collect all the cards and put them in a photo box. Nothing fancy, it’s just a plain black one I had on hand (they have them on sale quite often at Michaels). I place the photo box near the dining room table. In our dining room it lands on the hutch near the table.

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Did you see the black photo box? Blends in nicely which I like.

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At dinner time, when we pray for our meal, we take turns letting the kids go to the box and pick a card. We include the person or family whose card gets pulled in our dinner prayer.

That’s it! So simple. BUT it has allowed us to enjoy the Christmas cards throughout the year and it has expanded our prayer time which has been awesome for the kids to be a part of. Do we remember every dinner time? No, of course not. But with the kids involved they help us get back on track when we forget.

A couple of added things we’ve learned from doing this…

1. So that you don’t continue to pull the same card, we include a gallon zip-lock bag in the box to catch the cards we have already prayed for. This leaves cards we haven’t pulled free in the box to be grabbed by one of the kids.

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2. We now include other “cards” we receive. Invitations (birthday, wedding, baby showers, etc), announcements (wedding, gradations, retirements, etc.), thank you notes, etc. That way more special people and occasions can be remembered to pray for.

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3. There does come a time when the cards in the box need to be cleaned out. So I guess this post should read… don’t throw your Christmas cards out YET!  But you wouldn’t want your box to be overflowing and adding to the chaos in your life. So the next time we put Christmas away I take some time and toss some of the older cards we have used (aka. the ones in the zip-lock bag) especially if they can be replaced by a new card by the same person or family.

Something super easy you and your family can try in the New Year!

Pray with confidence friends.

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Is it too early for Christmas?

If you have shopped just about anywhere recently you’ve no doubt noticed that Christmas is already on the shelves ready for your consumption. In the past I have felt like they have at least let the Halloween crazy pass before overlooking Thanksgiving and heading to Christmas.

Not this year.

Target had some Christmas aisles up in October and I am pretty sure I could buy my kids Halloween costume at the same time as my fake Christmas tree at Costco as well. The Fall decor at Michaels has pretty much been on sale since Fall started and there is almost no sign of it left (unless its on clearance) because Christmas has all but invaded the store.

So… all this has left me thinking… is it too early for Christmas?

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From a marketing/consumer stand point the answer is simple… NO. The more Christmas is on your mind the more likely you are to shop now… and then later… whether you intended to spend that much this time of year or not.

We can get cynical about the consumer driven crazy of the holiday season… or we can get smart and use it to our advantage in order to allow us to have more time to fully worship Jesus this Christmas. 

Wait, what? How can I turn the shopping frenzy into anything for Jesus?

So here is where I would like to share some of my ideas and some notes I jotted down from Mom’s Inc. today about how to plan for Christmas so that it doesn’t make you crazy. With the help of the Organizing Pro. Marcia Ramsland we learned how to plan the time between Halloween and Christmas so that you can fit in your Thanksgiving planning, gift shopping and wrapping, Christmas parties, Christmas cards, decorations, and have some time and sanity left for remembering the real MEANING of the season.

The main thing you should take away from this post is to PLAN AHEAD!

Which means NOW. 

BUYING GIFTS

I want to speak to buying gifts verses making gifts or re-gifting, because when it comes to shopping and spending, that is where I think people really end up losing sight of the meaning of Christmas… and let’s be honest, we probably all end up buying some kind of gifts during this time of year.

First off… Is it bad to give gifts to others at Christmas time? I don’t think so. The wise men were the first Christmas gift givers as they each gave their generous gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus is God’s gift of salvation to the world. So through gifts we can bless others and be reminded of Christ this holiday season.

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Being consumed, however, by gift giving and receiving is what detracts from our ability to experience Christ fully during this time of year. Check your heart. Have you been guilty of worshiping the idol of gifts in the past? Do you go into debt over gift giving that you remain in bondage to bills well into the new year? What, if anything, may need to change about how you shop this year? Here are some ideas you may want to consider:

  1. Make a list early of who you would like to get gifts for this Christmas.
  2. Put Jesus at the top of your list! Keep your heart open to ways God may use you this season and serve Him as your gift to the King.
  3. Can you limit the number of people on your list? It’s okay… you can do it. If you need to tell people ahead of time that you won’t be sending gifts this year, then do so… but don’t feel a slave to gift giving because God loves a cheerful giver.
  4. Remember shopping can be as stressful as you want it to be… you really are in control as the gift giver. Instead of shopping for something different for every single person worried you may not be getting them exactly what they want… it may be helpful to do something like buying in themes. All the ladies in the family get new robes and all the men get a favorite book. Or perhaps you organize family wishlists and remind them to update them (Amazon wishlists are great and allow you to add items from other websites to their lists). Whatever the trick, help yourself make shopping for others easier… let go of unnecessary expectations about giving gifts that are burdensome to you and your wallet.
  5. Consider the Three Gifts Rule… like the three gifts given to Jesus! Instead of bombarding your family (especially children) with more gifts than they could ever need, confusing the meaning of Christmas, consider just giving them three gifts. Remember they’ll typically get more gifts from other people too so it’s not like they are getting jipped.
    Every family that adopts the ‘Three Gift Rule’ has their own philosophy about what the gifts should be. Some families go by the idea of it being a gift they want, a gift they need and special gift you want to give them. I like the way Wendy Willard explained how her family breaks down the Three Gift Rule as being something of great value, something that brings us closer to God/closer together as a family and something personal. To read more about how she does this with her family and the biblical reasoning for these gifts you can read Wendy’s full post HERE.
  6. If you can’t afford it, DON’T BUY IT. It sounds crazy to say, but it’s true. People will understand if this is not a season you can bless them with gifts… and if they can’t that is their problem, not yours, so don’t carry that burden. Consider more creative ways to give gifts if you still feel inclined to do something. Give the gift of time and service (give a hand made coupon if you still want to make it tangible). Make your own gifts, re-gift or re-purpose things you already have.

WHEN TO BUY GIFTS

I would like to pitch out the idea that NOW (all year really if you want the best deals) is the time to be buying gifts. In which case, the fact that stores are already geared up for Christmas works to your advantage! There is a little lull for most of us between Halloween and Thanksgiving that could be used toward planning a shopping ahead.

Why you ask? Because waiting until after Thanksgiving, which is later this year, is a pitfall you can avoid. There are only three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Think about when all of your Christmas events land… during those three weeks! Think of Cookie Swaps, Christmas Plays at the kids school, attending a Homeless Outreach, Christmas Work Parties, Christmas Concerts, Ugly Christmas Sweater Fun, Driving Around to See the Lights and Gingerbread House Making… all things you want to do and enjoy during the glorious month of December. Having to shop for your entire list during those three weeks, on top of all the obligations we have, is stress that you can avoid.

Think about it… being done with shopping early free’s you to fully worship Christ during the month of December. Being done allows you to attend the Children’s Choir Performance without thinking… I wonder if I could sneak back and grab little Suzy as soon as she is done singing so that we can leave before the show is over so we don’t get caught in church traffic and still have time to make it to the mall before _________ store closes. I mean who hasn’t had a thought like that? Undermining the time of worship you could be experiencing with Christ.

So do yourself a favor and start making a plan now. Start with your list, make what you can, save where it’s smart (like waiting until Black Friday if that is your plan), wrap your gifts early… but don’t rob yourself of the joy of experiencing the true meaning of Christmas by leaving it all these things to the last minute. 

Do what it takes to make sure your time and your heart is available to what is most important at Christmas time… worshiping Christ, building precious memories with family and friends and serving others!

What do you think about this idea? Could it help you worship more fully? Do you do something completely different that works? I’d love to know so please share!