With the increase in our family size - in both number of people and length of teenage boy's legs - the need for a different vehicle is also increasing.
The van I've been driving for almost 4 years is 14 years old, has 226,000 miles on it, and is currently sitting in the parking lot of Menards, waiting to be towed to the repair shop. It doesn't feel like running. It whines, turns over, and plays dead. Both front window motors have been repaired or replaced several times. The fuel pump and filter have been replaced at least twice. The alignment can not be aligned completely, so the front tires have to be replaced more frequently than average. The blower does not work on the high setting. The horn doesn't work at all. The van locks of it's own volition at the most inopportune times, usually when I forget to pick up my keys from the seat. The ignition key is duck-taped in permanently, because it broke off in the ignition.
Tom drives a Festiva, courting more miles than my van. This little circus car is part red, part blue, and part primer. It has several coat hangers holding the exhaust system together. The muffler is loud enough that it sets off the neighbor's weenie-car alarm system just as good as the Harley riders and the multitude of freight trains rushing through our town each day. The passenger window does not roll up all the way, and the door doesn't open all the way. When you close the door, you have to "lift and slam". The left headlight is covered by a sheet of clear plastic held on by a bungee cord or something similar. The heater does not work.
Believe it or not, both these vehicles were answers to prayer.
During the summer of 2004, I had been praying for some financial pressure to ease up a little, and in one particular moment, I said, "God, if we just had an extra $200 dollars a month, that would help us so much." A few short days after this innocent request,(perhaps not even a prayer so much as a fleeting thought, to be honest) someone plowed through a stop sign and broadsided me. This effectively eliminated a $188 monthly van payment, along with the insurance company calling it a total loss and giving us enough money to buy, with cash, the van we have now.
A few months later, Tom needed a better vehicle for work. Gas prices were just starting to rise above acceptable terms, and he prayed for a car that "gets at least 40 mpg, and won't cost more than $300". The ad he found in the classified section was the exact match, and he didn't have to pray for a week to decide if that was the car God intended for him to have.
There is a good possibility that we may be getting a baby in the near future. We are making some attempts to find the right adoptee(s), as well. Right now we have enough seat belts (notice I didn't say "enough room") for all family members, but one more addition will require either driving 2 vehicles or using a bigger mode of transportation when the whole family goes somewhere. But the bigger dilemma is actually deciding whether we want one of those gas-guzzling passenger vans, or do we want to drive separate, more efficient mini-vans? Would it be cheaper to drive one monster? What about when I need to take only 4 kids out? Should we get one monster and one normal car?
When we found this house, I had been praying that we would be able to buy, instead of staying where we were renting - the landlord called and said he was going to tear down our house to make a parking lot and we had 60 days to move. Since my prayers get answered in unorthodox ways, and since God apparently thinks I learn better through humor and comedy, I'm trying to make some of my prayers a little more specific. So...
Seating for 8+ family members and the occasional friend
A 2nd door on the driver's side
Accessibility for Gabe
Space for guitars, wheelchairs, strollers, car seats, diaper bags and other necessities of family life
Room for long legs to be comfortable and little arms to not be able to reach pullable hair
Economic feasibility - affordable insurance, decent gas mileage, etc.
Oh, and another thing, we can't afford a payment of any kind.
Yep, I know. I'm asking alot. But I seem to recall singing a song in Sunday School about God owning the cattle on a thousand hills. Most people would assume that means that God can provide a vehicle if it's needed. I'm sure He can and will. I just sincerely hope that His idea isn't to rope 10 of those Holsteins together and drop them off with a wagon at my front door!