Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Life Skills Lesson

Anyone that has been a parent for very many years has probably noticed that there inevitably comes a time that a lesson you've "taught" (or preached!) to your children comes around to visit you!  You then have to make a decision as to whether you follow what you preached and walk the walk or if you were just all talk.  Sometimes it's about habits.  Sometimes about faith.  Sometimes it's about sin.  Sometimes it's just....

Life lessons.

As adults we learned the invaluable lesson of the value of being debt free.  We learned the weight and chains that debt places on you.  So very painfully did we learn those lessons. 

So we changed how we did everything.  We started making the painful cuts.  We started saying the painful no.  We learned to live not only within our means, but below our means so that we could VERY SLOWLY inch towards freedom. 

Almost a year ago we reached that mark. It felt like it took a lifetime to get to that point and it practically did. There is no way to describe the feeling that comes from those broken chains.  We still have had to say no to many things and still live frugally in order to maintain that freedom.  We've slowly been able to build up an emergency fund and we are actively saving towards our dream of being in the foreign mission field. 


Life happens.

One thing after another breaks.  Some things we've just let go and done without.  Others have had no choice but to replace or repair.  It's life.

We have taught and taught our children to start their teen years and young adults years with in their means, whatever that level may be.  We didn't buy our daughter a car.  We did encourage her to work and save.  We encouraged patience and to proactively search for a car of her own in HER price range.  The importance and the value of a dollar saved.  She constantly said no to spending unnecessary money when out with friends or out shopping.  She is THE BARGAIN shopper.  She saved.  She worked.  Some days she worked at three different jobs.  And it paid off....the work, commitment, and patience....

A couple of weeks ago she bought her first car. In cash. Every dollar on her own.  She paid the taxes, title fee, and registration/license.  The title is in her name.  It belongs to her.  It's almost as old as she is, but it's HERS.  Free and clear.  She's learned something that is PRICELESS, especially in our society. 

Just four days prior to her finally finding HER "baby" (after refreshing Craigslist countless times a day for MONTHS!), Kevin's car quit.  Completely out of the blue.  NEVER had a single moment of trouble.  NO hint of any major repairs ahead.  My husband can fix nearly anything and we just figured this would be the case again.  It would be a hassle.  It had already been a "nightmare" day of him being stranded for three hours in the cold waiting for a tow truck ending in a nearly $200 fee. The next few days were spent praying and praying that it would be a simple fix.  Long story short: it wasn't. After nearly $1,000 in various attempts at repairs and towing, countless hours under the hood and many more prayers...it was over.  The junkyard became the home of what just days before was a working great vehicle.
Life happens that way.
Our fervant prayers for "easy" didn't turn out the way expected.
Yet, we still fully believe in God's goodness and His provision.  He didn't allow things to happen as easy as we wanted. He didn't allow things to be stress free. I had belief that all was going to work out even up to that last minute of the decision to junk it when the final answer came back that the needed repairs were significant and more costly than the value of the car. I had faith that the answer would be good.  Even the mechanic that we finally had to pay to dismantle the engine to find the problem didn't believe it would come back so significant.  But it did.
Once upon a time I would have been devastated.  Yes, we are in a place of hassle.  Yes, it's easier to not share a car when you have a family and littles that constantly need to be somewhere five minutes ago! Yes, it's hard to balance when your husband doesn't work in the same town we live. 
But we feel thankful.  We feel grateful that we can coordinate schedules and make it work.  We still have a reliable vehicle that gets the job done.  It does mean saying no to some plans.  It does mean learning patience.
It means we learn the same lessons we taught our daughter. 
Work. Save. Be patient.  Say no to countless things.
It would be easy to visit a dealership and buy a new car.  It would be easy to just go purchase a car a few years old.  On credit.  Putting is in debt.  Even for just a few years. 
The lessons were too painful and we learned them well.  We can't put ourselves back under the yoke.
We will wait.  We will save.  We will learn to manage and be thankful for what we do have.
We will practice what we preached. 
We will someday have a car back in the driveway for Kevin, but for now he'll continue to drive my "Gidget".  (He just better take good care of her.  She may not look so good these days after several IL winters, but she's paid for and serving us well!).  
It would be easy to just go back on what we've been teaching and living and take the "easy" road.  However, we know that the easy road has great costs at times. 
Above all, we want our kids to see that we believe what we teach and that just because situations become difficult that we still walk the walk.  We also want them to see us walk in faith and belief that God will provide for our needs---in His time and His way.   

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