Stuff God’s Been Teaching Our Family (Without A Car) In 2014

We lived without a working car for 6 months (on purpose.) God has taught us A LOT. This is some of what we learned.

~

My kids learned:

-We don’t need a car to live.

-Fast food is NOT what people want when they are walking everywhere.

-When I give food to homeless people it will be something healthy.

-People feel like they have an obligation to offer a ride if you’re walking. It’s a pity thing. (It shouldn’t be.)

-The way people look at you when you’re walking is pretty rude.

-Homeless people are probably stronger than anybody thinks they are.

-Employers are unsure if they should hire you when you don’t have a working car. They wonder if you’ll get to work.

-I learned we can do stuff even without a car.

-We can walk farther than we think we can.

-Any place is in walking distance if you take the time.

-You buy less things ’cause you have to carry stuff home.

-People eat a lot more than they need to.

-Walking is a work-out and it builds muscle.

-You feel better when you walk.

-We were blessed with 2 legs and 2 feet to be able to walk places. Some people aren’t.

-If you’re willing to help someone there needs to be a genuine love. Don’t just do it to check off the service hours on your list. Attitude matters.

~

What my husband learned:

I don’t NEED a car.

God provides what we need.

A car can add stress. (Also not having a car can add stress.)

~

Stuff God has been teaching me:

-When you’re walking places there is less of a hurry. It may take 30 minutes to walk some place when it takes 5 minutes in a car. (I love NOT being in a hurry!!)

-We are too busy …and we’re kinda selfish.

-Most people don’t really want to be bothered by other people’s needs. I was doing that, too. I liked MY schedule. I liked MY life. MY day. MY hours. MY time. MY whatever. But that’s not how we’re called to live.

-When I help someone, take time for them. People are worth taking the time to get to know. They will bless your life or you will bless theirs somehow. (I mean, besides the transportation factor.)

-When I do feel called to give someone a ride I will NEVER, EVER (EVER) have a look on my face like, “OH OKAY. I GUESS I can put myself out to give you a ride!”  Just… NO.

-Wait on God and His timing. Ask Him to be involved in EVERY part of life and trust Him (even when buying – or not buying a car.)

[VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Please DO NOT pick up someone if you feel you shouldn’t. It’s okay to pass by if you feel worried or have that feeling in your gut that it’s not a good idea. God gave us that feeling for a reason. Listen to your body and trust yourself.]

 

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God did this! Even if this part is all you read, that’s enough.

Heroes don’t always wear capes.

Sometimes heroes look like everyday people; just like you and me.

Yesterday a woman and her son (people we barely know) loaned us a vehicle for an indefinite amount of time.

Why?

God did this! Even if this part is all you read, that’s enough.

~

About 6 months ago our car broke (It’s an older car. Head gasket broke. Too costly to repair everything.)

We’ve been walking almost everywhere we need to go. A few friends have taken us places when we asked and sometimes have let us use their cars when we asked.   (And sometimes people just offered.)

But most of the time over the past 6 months we’ve been walking.

We always wanted to walk more but much of the time we just didn’t. Not living with a car has been a blessing in several ways. We’re getting in better shape, eating less, eating at home more, feel better, we’re NOT in a hurry, and we spend many hours just walking and talking as a family.

Don’t get me wrong. We could have chosen to buy a car on our own timing and our own terms but instead we chose to ask God to show us the right one and the right timing.

Many choices in life we’ve made on our own. We’re tired of that. Now we try to include God and ask Him to lead our schedule and our choices every day.

He does lead.

We just missed hearing about 2 vehicles in the past few months by about ONE day each time. Both vehicles sold for only $500 each.

I could have been upset. But the thing is that we’re praying and we know that God answers prayers. So since both vehicles passed us by we knew neither was the right one for us or the right timing for whatever reasons.

God’s timing is amazing.

When we wait on Him, trusting Him, and following Him, life is just better.

2 days ago (JUST before Thanksgiving) our daughter wasn’t feeling well. We ended up going to the Emergency Room, being transported by ambulance, and surgery done – all within about 7 hours.

It was unexpected and a pretty crazy week. It was appendicitis.

Friends gave us a ride to the hospital. Usually they don’t hear the phone but did this time and were at our door in less than 10 minutes. Thank you, Danny and Meredith.

Another friend brought my husband and oldest daughter to the hospital and stayed with us during the surgery. He wasn’t in a rush. God sent him to help us and just to love on us right when we needed a friend. Thank you, Mike.

Two of our daughter’s Bible class teachers came to visit her the next morning.  This was pretty cool because about 24 hours earlier they’d been in Israel.  They took the time after their long trip to visit her after surgery.  Thank you, David and Kari.  This was very sweet of you.

A friend and her mom also showed up at the hospital and were there just in time to hang out for a while in the hospital room and give our daughter someone to spend time with which put a much needed smile on her face. Then we were released (earlier than expected) to go home and they were able to drive us home. No hurry. No pressure. Just love. Thank you, (you know who you are.)

After we got home another friend and her dad came by our house. We talked while the girls played. We told him about the calling we feel to move to Alaska to open and take care of a homeless teen center and we talked about our car situation.

We had no idea what was going to happen next.

He made a phone call to his mom who is not needing to use her truck and he took us to get the truck right then. No strings attached. Thank you, Elizabeth, and Leland, and Rachel.

It may be a little while before our daughter can walk like she used to. Receiving a vehicle right now is quite amazing timing. It’s not coincidence.

God’s timing is perfect.

I do not have to be able to explain it.

I do not have to defend it.

I do not have to know HOW God is going to do something.

That’s not my job.

It’s my job to ASK Him.

It’s my job to believe that He will.

It’s my job to tell others about everything God has done in my life.

Yesterday a woman and her son (people we barely know) loaned us a vehicle for an indefinite amount of time.

God did this! (Even if this part is all you read, that’s enough.)

 

He told me not to bother God with stuff like that.

During my college years I was visiting a church and they asked if anyone had any prayer requests. I raised my hand and said something like, “I need it to not rain on Tuesday because I’m moving.”

And then the teacher said something I won’t forget, “God doesn’t listen to the little things like that.”

I told him it was a pretty big deal to me. It’s my life and it’s where I live so it wasn’t a little request to me.

He told me not to bother God with stuff like that.

It had been raining and raining for weeks (which I LOVE) but I really needed a day without rain to move because my lease was up and the new apartment was ready.

When we were back in class the next Sunday he asked about prayer requests again. I said I have a praise. “God answered my prayer. Not only did He give me ONE day – He gave me TWO days without rain to move.”

And after I moved – it rained AGAIN for a few weeks.

I’m sure some would say it was coincidence.

Some could say the rain was already going to do that on those days and prayer had nothing to do with it.

So… it just happened that my lease ended, the new apartment was ready, my boxes were packed, and everything else just happened to be the same day (two days) as no rain… and it just happened that I prayed about the specific day and all that?

Maybe…

(And it even could be that I wasn’t the only one praying for no rain on Tuesday.)

What I know is that my God is very big and He absolutely DOES care about every detail of our lives. He listens to our prayers and He is a detail God.

If we don’t believe God hears us and will answer when we pray… then why pray?

[Note: EVEN IF I had not received a day (or two) without rain, I’d STILL praise God and would have moved (with soggy boxes) but I may not have felt moved to write about it. There are many prayers God answers in ways only He understands. I will trust Him no matter what.]

If It Wasn’t For The X-Rays

A long time ago I was broken; on the inside. A teen driver accidentally drove through a stoplight and hit the side of the car crushing my side.

I remember thinking, “If I could just get this seatbelt off then I could get out of the car and I’ll be okay.”

But I was not okay.

I kept losing consciousness. I could barely breathe. The paramedics had to cut the car and lift me out.

The x-rays showed that my shoulder was crushed, collar bone had been broken, lung had collapsed, and liver was split open.

There was not one scratch on the outside of me.

If it wasn’t for the x-rays showing the truth then nobody would have been able to see the brokenness inside my body.

~
If we could see inside someone’s heart or life we’d see the broken pieces desperately needing to heal.

Stuff happened. Life has taught us to be a little less trusting, a little more defensive, and a little skeptical about others’ intentions.

Sometimes we’ve lost consciousness – and we don’t even know it. We THINK we’re okay – but we’re really not.

It’s okay to NOT be okay for a while. Life can sometimes pull the rug out from underneath our feet, leaving us in a pile of brokenness on the ground just struggling for the next breath.

We talk about stuff. We complain about stuff. We think about stuff. MORE THAN THIS we need to take it to God and PRAY about stuff.

The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. It’s what he does. And he’s good at it. That old devil wants to crush you until you forget what breathing is.

God restores what was stolen and broken. It’s what He does. ASK Him.

When it’s hard to breathe, remember God is the One Who gave you breath. He has x-ray vision and He can see everything that’s broken.

I heard a well-meaning Christian man say we need to clean ourselves up before we come before God in prayer. But God says otherwise. He says to bring Him all your broken pieces just as you are. He is The Healer. He is always there just waiting for you to ask for His help.

“Daddy? Please help?”

As parents, we think it’s cute when our 2 year old wants to help sweep the floor.

What about when our 10 year old helps fold clothes? We’re proud (even if he doesn’t do it the way WE would do it.)

When our 15 year old does the dishes we still like the help (most of the time.) Sometimes teenagers show a little attitude and decide they know best. They’re still learning – and learn quicker if we let the consequences do the teaching. (Of course – there are times to remove the phone, computer, music, or activities. We give and sometimes we take away.)

It’s pretty amazing when our kids ask us what job they can do and ALSO listen to how to do a job (though there is still some very important learning that takes place when they don’t ask for our guidance.)

Honestly, we CAN do all these jobs on our own AND we actually would do a more careful and more thorough job on each one of them.

~
The thing is when we ask God what job He wants us to do, incredible things happen. He’s not going to make us ask Him. We just (hopefully) eventually get around to realizing this is the best idea.

God does not NEED us to help. He WANTS us to help Him. He ALLOWS us to help Him. He LOVES for us to help Him.

But God is God and He does not NEED us to take care of stuff.

He is MORE than capable of doing everything on His own. He created the whole universe and everything in it WITHOUT our help. (It’s a bit egotistic to think He NEEDS us to do anything, isn’t it?)

When He calls us to do a job, He doesn’t expect us to then go off and try to do it on our own. He expects us to keep asking for His guidance.

Sometimes we (grown ups) decide we know best and we learn from consequences, too. We give God a little attitude sometimes, don’t we? (And He gives and sometimes He takes away.) Yet, He’s still in our corner, cheering us on, always hoping we’ll turn to Him for help.

Sometimes I envision Him looking at me while I try to do a job without Him (which has happened plenty over my lifetime.)

He’s smiling while shaking His head and just waiting for me to ask, “Daddy? Please help?” EVERY time I ask He is there and He is always more than capable.

Some kids consider suicide because of low grades

You do NOT have to be good at everything.

The older I get the more I notice how so many people think they have to be the best at everything. I’m not sure where this came from or when it started – but it’s been this way a long time.

God could have made us any way He wanted to and He purposely made each of us with different strengths and talents so when did we decide that we need to try to be equal?

If schools (and not just schools but school is the main place that was on my mind) want to help kids be the best they can be why don’t we work more on the natural God-given talents instead of trying to make people be equally good at every subject?

Some kids (and parents and teachers) make this into SUCH a big deal that kids actually consider suicide because of low grades. Unfortunately some go through with it.

~~> When kids commit suicide over low grades… we’re focused on the wrong things. <~~

I'm not the only person who can see that this pressure is too much and this way of thinking is messed up!

WHY? Why has school become this? (Maybe it's not this way in every school but low grades are THE thing teachers have focused on all OUR lives so that's why I'm writing this.)

Almost NOBODY is going to be equally good at every subject. And THAT'S OKAY!

WHAT IF when we look at report cards, instead of working on the worst grade, we focus on the best grade?

Because if we help each other find and sharpen our God-given skills to the very best of our abilities, then it would change the world. We would all be doing what we are designed to be doing.

Kids are stressed out about how to correctly use adverbs and prepositions instead of being able to enjoy the confidence knowing they are strong in math.

Yes. We need to know how to write to get our point across but bad grammar and spelling will NOT keep you out of Heaven.

(Personally, I'd rather do just about anything than work on math because I'm just not good at math.)

And wanna know something? It's OKAY to NOT be good at everything!

If someone is stronger in math, then maybe we should feed that area of interest instead of being so wrapped up in their weakest subject.

Report cards do NOT measure your worth.
Report cards do NOT measure your value.

But many kids (AND many grown ups) go through life feeling like "less than" because a 2.0 grade average TOLD them to BELIEVE they are less than.

You are not less than ANYthing.

You are great! You have many amazing God-given gifts and if you're not sure what they are yet, ask God to show you. He will. They'll match your interests and usually they're the things you're good at without trying much. Your talents are directly in line with why God made you and what you were made to do in life.

Sure. Keep studying math because we need math in life but stop stressing out about a lower grade in math and focus more energy on your strongest subjects. God MADE you this way. It's OKAY to be better at spelling than math or vice versa.

In case nobody ever told you… you do NOT have to be the greatest at everything. You are very talented.

She said, “You mean today?”

She said her family may as well be as far away as Mars. I asked what she was doing for Christmas dinner. If she didn’t have any plans she could hang out with us, play board games, eat dinner, and watch a movie.

We saw her a couple more times before Christmas.

We asked her once more and gave her our phone number. We didn’t want her to feel like she HAD to come to dinner so we didn’t bug her about it again.

~
Dinner was almost done and it was around 5pm. We hadn’t heard from her yet. I whispered something like, “Okay, God, I’m not sure what to do. If You want her here, please show us. If not, then okay.”

I called her number. No answer. I left a quick message; something like, “Hey, we’d love for you to still come to dinner if you want to. It’s almost ready to eat. Please let us know. We can come pick you up if you need a ride.”

Within minutes she called saying she was at a nearby store (which was closed for Christmas) and would love to hang out.

She was only a few minutes away from our house. After she was in the car, I told her I could have driven to her house to pick her up. I didn’t mind at all. “Where do you live?”

She said, “You mean today?”

~
Our family has known for a long time that we are to help take care of homeless people.

Knowing this, we’ve tried to get involved in local homeless shelters and every year we’re told they have enough help.

~~> What we’ve learned is that people don’t have to ask other people how they can help. Ask God how He wants you to help. He’ll show the way. <~~

He brought a homeless woman to our door for Christmas dinner.

God will make a way when there looks like there is none.

That tug on your heart is there for a reason. Ask God what He wants you to do. He’ll lead you – even in the little things.

~
He also leads in the bigger God-sized things.

God put it on our hearts (about one year ago) that He’s moving us to Alaska to open and care for homeless teen center. He makes a way where we cannot see a way.

Prayers always welcome here.

We don’t know everything about how to do this God-sized job but we can look back and see how God has been preparing us for this for over 35 years.  We’ll keep following as He opens doors.

This is all about God and His Power. We are just His hands and feet.

Because of Stephen (a very special kid)

God calls us in different ways.

Lisa was one of my roommates from college. She was called by God.

God gave her 3 healthy kids, 2 miscarriages, and Stephen. Because of her experiences she can help people in ways I can’t even begin to know how to.

Stephen is a very special kid with very special needs. He’s been diagnosed with multiple disabilities due to severe brain damage from birth because of preeclampsia; He is deaf, blind, epileptic, has a feeding tube, a shunt for hydrocephalus, non-ambulatory (meaning he can’t walk or sit or feed himself,) and Cerebral Palsy.

~~> When God calls you

it usually turns your world upside down. <~~

People are in their house all hours of the day (and sometimes night.) There’s no privacy.

Some of their house has been turned into a hospital ~ for Stephen.

People stare at him because he’s… different.

He’s a very beautiful “different” with a contagious laugh.

He’s here for a reason. God did not make him by mistake.

God has connected many people together because of Stephen.

If Stephen wasn’t Stephen, the nurses, doctors, therapists, and hundreds more people wouldn’t have been connected with Lisa and she wouldn’t have had this opportunity to share her faith with them.

She COULD have cursed God. But she didn’t. She COULD have said, “No. God, this is too much for me.” (…Because sometimes it feels that way.) But she didn’t. She accepted the assignment that she was called to be his mom as a gift and she loves him.

She accepts help from people she doesn’t know (medical and personal help) because caring for him is a full time job.

I cannot comprehend the faith and energy it’s taken her and Kevin to learn all they’ve had to learn to be his mom and dad. And I praise God for all the people who have been there to help love on Stephen and get to know his family.

I’m writing this ~ because of Stephen.

The truth is we ALL have special needs. Jesus is the answer to them all.

~
Notes from Lisa.

8 1/2 years ago my world was turned upside down. Fear was the theme for the day. I was afraid for my life as well as my unborn child’s.

It was too early, but apparently, it was time.

Some in this world would say it was a tragedy. I call it a true gift. It has brought unimaginable joy, heartbreaking pain, laughter, tears, patience, and humility.

Stephen Sanders was given as a blessing not just to me, but to the world. I would move Heaven and Earth to change things for him, but I would never change him for me.
~
I am thankful for my children in general.

David for being friendly and outgoing.

Micaiah for being willing to work hard even when she doesn’t really want to.

Stephen for teaching me patience by throwing me into the fire.

And Nathan for giving me a fresh look at the world.

God, bless my children as they walk their paths through this life and please take care of my two babies who are already in Heaven with You.
~
Monkey, You are such an amazing little boy. There aren’t words to describe how much I love you. Your strength inspires me to go on when I am worn down. The smile on your face makes me laugh through the tears. And the way you tell me you love me without uttering a word reminds me of what true love is really about. I am so blessed to be your Mommy.

 

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Seven Million Tears (Divorce)

I remember the waves of sadness that would crash over me. There wasn’t any rhyme or reason so I’d know when to expect the next one.

There may be a song or a moment or words spoken and the waves of sadness threatened to take me under. It was so hard to breathe. I may be in a store or in the library. I had go to my car and get out of there because I couldn’t stop the tears – or the pain.

Sobbing uncontrollably in public isn’t fun.

People usually don’t know what to say when someone is going through a divorce. It’s almost as uncomfortable for them as it is for the people going through it.  (Almost.)

A few years after I’d cried the last of the seven million tears and healed from my divorce, my Uncle Dale visited me. He was going through some deep grieving over the end of his marriage.

I sat with him and we talked. We prayed together. Of course we cried together. I hugged him and THEN I said it; The words I never thought would have left my mouth (and shocked that I’d even THINK them,) “I’m so glad I’ve been divorced so I can help you through this.”

WHAT?!

I mean, WHAT?!

I couldn’t believe I said that.

Those words just left my mouth.

I HEARD what I’d said… and I MEANT it.

I was never EVER glad to be divorced in ANY way – until that moment.

Someone was hurting ~ and I understood the pain. ~ I could be there for him and help in some way that others couldn’t.

That’s what it’s all about. If we hide the stuff we’ve been through in our lives how can we help someone else?

You don’t have to wonder how you’ll know who needs your story.

God leads people to each other all the time. Ask Him who and when.

You’ll know.

Your seven million tears have a purpose even bigger than helping you heal from your pain.

Your life matters. Your story matters. How you feel about it all matters. What matters next is what you will do with it.

 

People tend to exclude others. I guess it’s human nature.

If you look around you can see this everywhere; work, school, church, homes, and just everywhere.

Why do we spend so much time (and probably much of it happens on a subconscious level) deciding who is “in” or “worthy enough” for us to spend any quality energy on?  (Maybe we exclude people who end sentences with prepositions.)

We can look around and see that everyone around us is broken;

~ EVERY ONE of us is broken in some way. ~

(And if someone acts like he’s not then maybe there’s something so hidden that he can’t even bring himself to admit or acknowledge.)

But the irony is in this truth; WE, in all our arrogant, self-appointed mightiness, do NOT get to decide who gets Heaven for eternity.

Awful criminals who killed and raped people may have truly repented and will be in Heaven.  (That’s hard to imagine but true.)

The guy or girl who treated you like you were nothing important and stomped on your heart may be in Heaven. (You are VERY important, by the way.)

Your opposing sports team AND the coach may be in Heaven. (Yes. It’s a real possibility.)

If God lets them in, He lets them in. This is a gift from Him offered to EVERYONE.

No amount of whining will change God’s decision. “It’s not fair. Look how he lived!”

“Didn’t you see his car? It’s not nice enough.”

“But God, she doesn’t wear the ‘right’ clothes.”

“But God, they didn’t win the World Series or the Super Bowl or the World Cup!”

I picture God saying, “Um, what does that even mean, child?”

It’s pretty sad to spend this life being unkind to people you don’t think are worthy or good enough or ~whatever enough~ only to find out you’re spending forever with them.

Forever and ever and ever… beside people you didn’t want to breathe the same air with on Earth. How’s that for irony?

God, PLEASE help us see each other through Your Eyes. Please remind us what this is really all about because You know we’ve forgotten. Please forgive us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.