Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Learning to Trust

It's strange to write these words. I've been a believer all my life, and I've always known that God could and did provide. I've seen it in my own life, time and again.

Still, I had a moment this afternoon that brought tears to my eyes, as I saw how God is AGAIN providing for us at just the right time.

With the vehicle problems we've been having (read the last four or five entries to see the whole sordid story), this month has been--well--a little tough for us financially. Add to that the fact that I haven't had consistent income from preaching since I finished an interim ministry on 1 July, and things have felt a little strained, financially.

Yet when I sat down this afternoon with the checkbook and the bills spreadsheet, I realized that I could still pay all the bills for July. There isn't $$ for anything else, but there'll be just enough to get us through. Which, when you think about it, is pretty amazing.

I keep thinking about the Israelites, and how God gave them daily bread, just enough manna to feed them for today, and more on the way tomorrow. I guess I've been having a "manna moment," myself.

God is indeed good.

More Vehicular Drama

OK, so one month ago (15 June or thereabouts) my Isuzu Trooper broke down on the last leg of the Great Western Family Vacation of 2006 (16 days, from Kentucky to California and back.) It made the first 5,200 miles of the trip, but couldn't make the last 400 or so.

We had to replace the vehicle. And we had to borrow some money from the bank, in addition to the car loan, for the down payment, because we were upside down on the vehicle that broke down. (BTW, NEVER take a 72 month note on a vehicle, you'll NEVER be right-side up on it.)

We got it done, right? An almost-new Chevy Trailblazer for my wife to drive, and I'll drive the 1999 Ford Escort until the tax return comes in. At that time, I'll get a pickup and my daughter will get the Escort. Good plan.

And we're paying more each month, but only a little. It's tight, but doable. Right?

That was the state of our vehicular lives on Friday morning, 14 July.

That Friday afternoon, less than a month after my beloved Isuzu Trooper died a painful death, the timing belt on the Escort slipped a cog, which tore up the engine in the Escort. (Techno-geek talk: I need a new cylinder head, because the slipped cog caused the valves to drop onto the pistons, which just tears everything to heck.)

So here's where we are:
  1. We spent a lot of money on the Great Western Family Vacation of 2006. We made some GREAT memories for the kids, and some wonderful and beautiful time together as a family.
  2. Then we spent all the money we could borrow on getting out of the broken down Isuzu Trooper and into the shiny new Trailblazer.
  3. And now I have to repair or replace the Escort. It'll cost more to fix the engine than it will to replace the engine, or just get a different car.
  4. We can't sell the Escort for salvage, we have to hang on to it because there's a lien against it.

I think that's everything.

God has a really weird sense of humor, doesn't he? I gotta say, right now I question his timing.

I know he'll get us through this, he's gotten us through worse. And I'm sure I'll see a reason for this someday. But this is SO not fun.

We bought the Trailblazer

This is a diary entry from 1 July.

We bought the Trailblazer. It's beautiful, and my wife loves it. It's her first new vehicle. I have thus insured domestic tranquility for a time.

I'm now driving her 1999 Ford Escort, which is fine EXCEPT it's a small car and I am NOT a small man. (I'm an ex-football player, 6'6" and 350 lbs. Picture Tony Soprano with a Ph.D. and better hair.)

Between the Trailblazer and the extra expenses, including the balance on the Trooper, we're paying about the same amount per month as we'd be paying for the Trooper plus what it would have cost to repair it.

Any time it costs the same amount to repair an old vehicle as it does to replace it, I vote to replace it.

Buying a New Vehicle

This is a diary entry from 28 June.

2006 Trailblazer EXT, slightly used (15,000 miles). INCREDIBLE deal (well under $20,000). GORGEOUS. Charcoal grey. It'll be my wife's vehicle, and I'll just be jealous.
t's in the hands of the bankers, now. I know we'll get approved, but the monthly payment must be under the magic number or we're not going to do it.

Vehicular Drama

This is diary entry from 28 June.

Ok, so: we're trying to decide if we should a. replace the engine in my 2001 Isuzu Trooper, or b. trade it in, blown engine and all, on a new Chevy Trailblazer.

The issues:

  1. We still owe $$ on the Trooper. We'd be WAY upside down on the new vehicle.
  2. It will cost as much or more to repair the Trooper than it would to go on Ebay and buy a Trooper of the same year with fewer miles. In other words: repairing the Trooper will cost more than the Trooper is worth.
  3. My wife doesn't like or trust the Trooper. As a family vehicle, it works for me and our three kids, but not for the five of us--just not quite enough room, it's too narrow for two adults (especially one of my size) to sit together in the front. Ergo: I would be taking great strides toward ensuring domestic tranquility by getting something a little bit larger (like the Trailblazer.)
  4. I have ALWAYS been the one to get the new vehicle. My wife has NEVER had a new vehicle to call her own. Further, my wife is likely to take better care of a new vehicle than I would. Ergo: if we get the Trailblazer, it would be HER vehicle. I would be driving her little Escort as my primary vehicle, at least until we're finished paying for our kids' orthodontia and can afford to buy an old F-150 for me.
  5. Even with our credit--which is OK--we qualified for an insane amount when we prequalified for a loan.
  6. If we replace the engine in the Trooper, we'll need to borrow $$ from the bank. When added together, the amount that that we'd have to pay on the new engine and the amount that we're already paying on the Trooper would probably exceed the monthly payment on a new Trailblazer (even with what we're upside down on the Trooper added in.)
  7. Yes, we've been promised a HUGE deal on the Trailblazer. The guy who owns the dealership goes to our church. He's a good guy.

I think that's the whole list. So, whaddaya think?

I think we're getting a Trailblazer, assuming the lenders can make the numbers work.

Back from Vacation

What follows is a personal diary entry from June 20.

The Great Western Family Vacation of 2006 is over. We went through Colorado Springs, Denver etc., through Utah to Las Vegas to Anaheim (Disneyland), then Laguna Beach, then the Grand Canyon and Albuquerque and Muskogee OK etc. and then back to Kentucky.

The vacation lasted two weeks on the nose. Everything was wonderful, EXCEPT my SUV broke down in the early afternoon of the last day of traveling. We finished the trip in a rental car.

The engine blew in Rolla, Missouri. I now have to have a new engine installed, or replace the vehicle.

So: I got up Saturday morning and drove (with a friend of mine) to take the rental car back to Rolla and put my SUV up on a flatbed trailer and bring it back here. We left at 4 a.m. Saturday morning and got back at 4 a.m. Sunday morning. 24 hours on the nose.

It's in the mechanics hands, now.

Anyway. GREAT, wonderful, fun, relaxing vacation. Crummy way to end it, but it doesn't come close to ruining things--it was STILL great.

Man, I'm hung over from the traveling, and from having to tow the broken-down thing back.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I'm back, I'm back, I'm back

Okay, the typepad thing wasn't worth spending $4 / month. I didn't blog that frequently--best intentions, road to hell, etc.

But blogspot is free, so I think I'll keep this one. More in a minute (or so.)