"[Y]et I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."
February 9, 2017, turned out to be one of the craziest days so far this year, and one I hope never to repeat again, but for being able to tell this story.
The one snowstorm we've had all winter decided to arrive overnight, with the predicted ability to dump 4"–8" of snow on our region. Middle was scheduled for eye surgery to readjust one of the muscles in her left eye that had been tightened too much by July's surgery, Mom was out of town and couldn't help, and of course we had no idea that we were looking at impending white death when we scheduled the procedure at her follow-up appointment the week before. So not only do we have a 75-minute drive to get to the surgical center, we have one in bad weather.
Fortunately for us, we have wonderful friends...and the always-delightful Mrs. P, a dear friend who is retired and lives nearby, agreed to come to our house at the ugly hour of 6 a.m. to pack the remaining cherubs off to school for us that morning. I was pretty confident that we would all be home by the time they'd be out of school for the day. As D-Day approached, and we realized a snow day was entirely possible, Mrs. P said she would simply stay with Oldest and Youngest at our house. "Are you sure?" I asked. "We can just take them with us." She was sure. And from the pictures she shared, they had a much better day than we did.
So, off we scooted. The interstates weren't in bad shape, but we weren't 20 miles from home before the DOT had dropped all speed limits to 45 because of the weather conditions. Frustrating, because the roads were mostly wet and the snow had let up, no longer falling as heavily, so Hubby kept moving with traffic and around it as best he could. Middle fell asleep in the back as we traveled.
The route between our home and the surgical center where we needed to get takes us over a small mountain. The best way for us to get there is to go north on one interstate, east on another, and then south on a third almost until we're nearly at the same general latitude from whence we came. It's that third interstate leg that always concerns us. It's old, it's narrow, and it's dangerous in this kind of weather. And you're far more likely to have problems...
"Tire pressure warning just came on," Hubby observed as we were throttling down that very same section of highway, about fifteen minutes from the surgical center. "I don't know if it's the back right one..."
The one that we knew had two nails in it and were babying it along with Fix-a-Flat.
The wobble in the rear of the car became more pronounced in a hurry, and Hubby gently steered us off into the snowy shoulder.
It was the left rear tire.
Did I mention that this section of the interstate in question is really narrow and treacherous under good conditions?
These were not good conditions.
I called the surgical center to explain our situation and tell them we would get there when we got there. They assured us that we should just be safe and they would take care of our daughter when we arrived.
Hubby determined within a few short minutes that it was foolhardy and more to risk attempting to change the tire there on the road, and opted to risk the rim for the half-mile-ish (blessedly) to the next exit and nearest gas station. There, he scavenged a cardboard box from the dumpster and exchanged the left rear tire for the spare while Middle and I roamed the small convenience store.
Hubby waved us back out to the car, and Middle and I trundled out into the cold. "Look at this," he called. He pointed to the half-dollar-sized hunk of metal embedded in the tire, and the subsequent gash that ran across the tread and up into the sidewall. "Fix-a-Flat won't fix that. I figured it was something like this based on how fast it went down." He sighed. "I hate this road!" While we had a good spare, getting back home over the mountain would be tricky, and two new tires were definitely not in our budget. Not even close.
Middle went back to OR, and our tummies were growling. One of us needed to stay put with in the surgical center, and so Hubby went out to scrounge breakfast for the two of us.
Ten minutes later, he called me. "I have good news and bad news. The good news is we no longer need two new tires."
"The bad news is I've gotten into an accident. I'm okay," he stressed. "The car is not, however." He went on to describe how he had looked down for half a second and discovered the car in front of him had spiked the brakes hard when he looked back up. He hadn't had time to stop. There was minimal damage to the car in front of him, and even less to the car in front of that one, but that vehicle happened to be a company car, so that meant all kinds of headaches now. The police were on scene, and they were not happy when they discovered that the driver of the car Hubby hit was not validly licensed. (It seems he had a license of some kind, according to the accident report, but it was expired.) They were even less happy that the driver was trying to claim that the fully-licensed passenger was driving, not him. When all was said and done, the license-less driver was ticketed for that, the third driver walked away relieved that she had practically zero damage and a police report to cover her heinie with her company, and Hubby was ticketed for reckless driving.
At least $200 for new tires, provided the car is fixable.
And we still have to get home.
I dumped out my sock change purse and bought myself a Snickers bar and a Diet Dr Pepper from the vending machines in the lobby.
I got a text from Special Edition, asking if Hubby was okay, having seen his post on Facebook about needing a car. I gave her the story so far.
Then I went back to see Middle, who was now in recovery and doing fine, promising that Daddy would arrive soon.
Hubby arrived shortly, having gimped the car back to the surgical center. The nurses tutted over our run of bad luck that day. Middle bounced back fairly fast in recovery, and we were heading for home within thirty minutes of Hubby's arrival in recovery.
We discovered in short order that the radiator had been damaged, as there was no longer heat in the car. There was plenty in the engine, however, We stopped at my mom's house for Hubby to assess, and then took a long shot...and drove the mile or so to the used car dealership near there where Mom had recently bought her new-to-her car, where we had bought our now-banged-up one, where Dad had bought his last couple of vehicles. I watched the salesman wince as we drove toward the rear.
This place, these two guys who run it, they are Christian men. Our last three vehicles have been purchased, directly or indirectly, through this one salesman. My dad trusted this guy. And it's a powerful statement of what your father's name can do for you, too. Hubby parked, got out, and walked toward the office.
He told me later that he said to them that he knew they were in the business of selling, not lending out, but thought it was worth a shot to stop in and see if maybe they had a loaner we could use until we could arrange other transportation for ourselves.
I cried when Hubby opened the door and told me to get out, as I watched the finance guy brushing off their loaner vehicle. "Just get it back to us by Monday," he told us.
Three days. This gave us three days to arrange something to get us through the next week or so, until the insurance company figured out what they were going to do.
We made it home and I relieved Mrs. P of my other two kids, and discovered they'd been baking up a storm while we were gone, having made brownies and a cake.
We have wonderful friends, as I believe I've mentioned somewhere in this thing. I contacted good friends of ours who have previously offered to let us borrow their second vehicle if we need it, provided we can play shuttle for her husband. They were able to arrange some strings and said we could borrow his car.
When we returned the loaner vehicle on Sunday night (which turned into its own Keystone Kops adventure after Hubby locked his cell phone in the car and didn't discover it until after he'd dropped the keys; yes, we got it back without much incident), I used the insurance company's app to upload pictures of our poor car to our insurance claim.
Then we waited for the insurance company to do their thing.
We discussed what might happen and how we might proceed, should the insurance company decide to total the vehicle. We knew we didn't have the money for the deductible. Hubby works for Chick-fil-A these days. He doesn't make a lot of money. We make ends barely meet by the skin of our teeth most months. It's creative money management at its worst, usually. We definitely didn't have $500 just sitting around.
I told our Sunday School class that I've never prayed so hard for a vehicle to be totaled in my life...and chuckled when one member asked where our car was, so he could go "help."
On Tuesday—Valentine's Day—I went to the mailbox. Special Edition had come out the night before to visit, and she watched me stand in the foyer and open up a card from a college friend we dearly love, who lives miles and miles away.
Curious that we would be getting a card from her now. We usually get one at Christmas. Or when the whimsy strikes her, because she's found something cute for us or the kids.
I was not expecting the check I found inside. I looked at the staggering number: $1000! I nudged the slip of paper down. "You are loved by an extravagant God," she wrote, with the direction to send the rest on to bless someone else if it's more than what is needed.
Tears pushed at my eyes. I didn't even know what the insurance company was going to do yet.
One thousand dollars. That would cover the $500 deductible...the two new tires we'd need...the labor for getting them put on and messing around with the tire pressure monitoring system...the fine for the ticket...the lapsed inspection that we had been putting off because we knew that one tire wouldn't pass. It would cover it all.
Later that evening, I checked my email on my phone. The insurance estimate was in. My phone turned the PDF to gobbledygook when I tried to read it, with the lines mashing on it together, but I could see enough to tell that they would be fixing the car, not totaling it, so I forwarded it to Hubby and went back to watching Friends with Special Edition. (It's our thing.)
Truthfully, it wasn't until the end of last week that I finally put everything together as to exactly how God had this figured, when I was trying to tell Waffle what had happened. That's when I realized just how specifically my extravagant God had covered everything...right after she screeched at me for not telling her sooner.
I can't have any doubts now that God will take care of us, even as tight as things are for us.
The car is in the shop. It will be repaired. And we have the funds to cover it all.
Because of his great love for us.