15 March 2014

Moving mountains is a piece of cake.

But how about raising money? Finding a car?

My good friend LeAnne totaled her faithful Rodeo at the beginning of March. The poor thing was on its last legs, with a crunched fender, smashed-in hood and half-spider-webbed windshield (thank you, big horse in the dark pasture--so glad all involved were okay), complete with red bungee cord to keep the hood down. But it kept on going, and kept her and her boys safe when they slid on black ice on a bridge up here, bashing both sides of the Rodeo into the cement barriers as it pinballed back and forth.

Suddenly, she had no car. And just $200 in her pocket to buy a new one from selling the Rodeo for scrap. She's a single mom going to school online, and hasn't found work that accommodates the needs of her sons and schoolwork. And as much as I wished differently, my family is in no position to buy a car. She looked and looked, and two different possibilities presented themselves. One local that needed significant work, and one twelve hours away that we had no pictures of, and no way to inspect. But she just kept telling me, "Annalea, I really feel like God has an amazing car out there for me, and I don't want to settle." So I wracked my brains, and one Sunday night, it occurred to me to wonder about something like Kickstarter. Vern thought it was a good idea, so I did some research the next day, and discovered gofundme. It took a little while to get the campaign set up, and a few more days to actually start some publicity.

Said publicity consisted of adding a little over 200 email contacts, more than 350 facebook contacts, and a whopping eighteen twitter followers. (Yeah, I'm big stuff over at twitter. lol) Unbeknownst to me, gofundme immediately sent out emails to all of the newly-added email contacts. (If I had understood that, I know I wouldn't have added so many, if any at all. I'm just kinda shy like that.) No more than two minutes later, my phone rang, and it was my brother calling from where he works in Texas, wanting to see if the email from gofundme was legit. We got to talking, and I told him a little about LeAnne, but the conversation went another direction before I managed to tell him why I was raising money for her. Then, after a good fifteen minutes on the phone, I realized I hadn't told him, and gave him the details of the accident and where it left her.

"Well, I have a car I could give her," he said in his matter-of-fact drawl.

"A car?!?!?" was all I could come up with.

"Yeah, I've got a car I could give her. I was just given a car down here, so she can have the Navigator I've got sitting in the driveway at the house. It hasn't been driven in more than a year, and needs new tires, but it runs good."

"Ummm, SHE'LL TOTALLY TAKE IT!" I managed to get out, around the laughter and shock.

Come to find out, not only is it in pretty good shape, but it's a super-nice SUV. Leather seats (heated!), sunroof, all kinds of bells & whistles. lol He didn't need it, and wanted it out of the driveway.

Yeah. God sure did have a really awesome car for her. Wow. I got the rest of the details and called LeAnne.

"Hello?"

"Hey, girl! I just got some publicity going on the gofundme campaign, and my brother called after it sent him an email, thinking it looked like a scam. I told him a little about you, and then we got to talking, and it wasn't until a while later I realized I hadn't told him why I was running a campaign for you. So I told him, and" . . . I had to pause here as a grin split my face . . . "he said he has a car you can have."

"WHAT???? No way!!!!" She laughed and cried and praised . . . and then did it even more when I told her what kind of car it was. She kept going the whole time we were on the phone, only to stop every now and then say, astounded tears in her voice, "But Annalea, that's a really. nice. car!"

Talk about an answer to prayer, and God making good on His word. I'm not sure how to express the depth of gratitude and the significance of this sign that followed LeAnne's faith. I had believed that she believed God had an awesome car out there for her, but I can't honestly say that I believed it fully, myself. But then, on the phone that day, I could see she had been right to trust the word God had given her, and my own faith sprang up to new height and strength.

I posted an update to the gofundme campaign, letting everyone know WE HAD A CAR!!! ALREADY!!!!, that it would need tires and a few things, but that we just took a huge chunk out of our funding goal. Then, throughout the rest of the day, donations rolled in.

People I knew well, family members, people I barely knew, people I didn't know at all . . . they all chipped in what they could. My heart kept filling and overflowing with an incredible, unique warmth I'd never experienced before: the selfless generosity of others expressed for someone I love dearly. Before I knew it, we had enough for tires, and we were in business! Even after weeks have passed I'm still having such a hard time putting into words the depth of the humbling, honored feeling it was to accept those donations, some from people I knew were sacrificing to help someone I love so much. Caring for one another in this way is something we should do much, much more often, because it blesses both sides immeasurably. I now understand what fuels people who dedicate their lives to charities. It's just astounding.

A week went by, and we drove down to pick up the Navigator. We got it all squared away with new battery, checked all the fluids, put a bunch of fuel treatment in the tank, and LeAnne's dad showed up to look it over and ran the compressor I brought to inflate the tires enough to get it down the road to the tire shop where we got some new all-seasons on it. As she backed it out of the driveway, the rear end bumped up onto the sidewalk, and the air ride suspension on the back end bottomed out. Totally. And stayed that way. lol The front seemed to hold just fine, though, so we caravanned down the road to take care of the tires. (Which ended up being about $150 less than we had planned! Yea!) At the tire shop, we learned the rear brake pads would need replacing soon, and the front ones not too long after that.

So, in addition to a new suspension system, we'd need the brakes repaired. Soon.

Okay.

LeAnne looked at me, worry showing on her face. I looked at her, and a buoyant feeling pushed up into my chest and spread across my face in a huge grin. Then these words just came out of my mouth seemingly of their own volition:

"It's all good, it's all good. God got you a car. He paid for tires. He can pay for repairs, too. He's got this!"

Throughout the rest of the day, as we learned more about what it might cost to fix the suspension (ouch), that feeling stayed with me. Solid. Light. Sure. I could hardly believe how easily and how fast God ponied up for LeAnne's car. The repairs would be no big deal. Far more people have money than a spare car, right? Right.

She got the Navigator home alright that night, and LeAnne drove back into town the next day to drop it off at the auto shop, owned by a friend from her church. I posted an update to the gofundme campaign that afternoon, and left it in His hands. Not long afterward, we had the news: the total for repairs (which could be broken down into two phases, one urgent and one that needing doing within a couple months) was over $1000. Wow.

Still, that buoyant feeling persisted: "God's got this," I found myself saying, absolutely confident. (Although, I did add a couple of times straight to Him, "God, I haven't the faintest how You're going to pull this off. But I know You can do it, so it's all Yours. Take it away!")

I'd never had an experience like this before. The pattern I was taught all my life was "Trust God, ask Him for what you need. But be totally prepared to work hard for what you want, and even more prepared for Him to not give you what you want, because it might not be His will." I was taught that God gives us our trials, that He often gives us really painful, deeply difficult hardship for our own good, and that we just couldn't understand the workings of His will for us. Even though those things seemed bad to us, to Him, they weren't.

But this . . . this feeling of absolute certainty that everything would work out, of laying all of it at His feet in an absolute absence of fear, THAT is faith, folks. And it was so shiny new.

Faith is knowing that He's got your back, because He told you so.

He will take care of it.

Faith is trusting Him.

Totally.

No backups, no "Plan B". Just Him. The husband that has covenanted to take care of every need of those who accept Him and the terms of His promise.

Later that evening, I got a facebook message from an acquaintance I'd only known for a short time. She asked, "How much will it be to fix your friend's car?" I wrote a detailed breakdown of the two phases, and she commiserated with me heartily. And then, I'll never forget seeing the message she sent back back: "Do they take American Express?" (?!?!?!?)

Once again, I found myself laughing and jumping around, totally stunned at the way God works. I had envisioned working for weeks to gather enough modest donations to cover the repairs, doing a lot more writing for the campaign, even contacting a couple of previous contributors who mentioned they might be able to contribute more, if necessary. But God just got'er done in one fell swoop, only a few hours after learning the total cost.

Hallelujah, God be praised, for He IS GOOD!!!!

Jesus was serious when He said:
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him?" ~Matthew 7:9-11 NLT
God just wants us to drop all of our insecurities, all of our fears, all of our excuses, and go to Him. Trust Him. Open ourselves to Him without reservation, and without fear. Think of what He has already done for you . . . the incredible sacrifices He made, over and over throughout His life, and most of all His atoning sacrifice, all so He could have the power to come to wherever we are, and fill our deepest needs. He wants to show us, however and whenever and wherever He can, that we can trust Him. That we can love Him, utterly and with total abandon. He only asks we approach him with one thing:

" . . . faith, nothing wavering."

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. ~James 1:5-7 KJV 
Lord, fill Your people with faith! Speak to us the knowledge of Your love, let us see & recognize Your hand all around us in our lives. Let us trust You, and love You, and reaffirm that You are good--the best ever, wholly undiluted by anything not good--and reaffirm to us that our complete trust, our faith, can abide safely in You forever. In Jesus' glorious name, amen!!!

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I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!