Friday, June 5, 2015

The Gift, AutoNation, and AN AMAZING GOD!

For those of you who are new here, the following link will tell you just a little about our family.
"Our Family"

Please forgive any grammar/spelling mistakes (smile).  I'm trying to write this before the kids are up.

There's a story to tell and I want to shout it from the mountain tops!

It's a testimony to God's greatness and the beautiful generosity of AutoNation.

A couple of months ago we had one of those days where you think, "Really God? I know you are going to use this, but I'm weary and I just don't completely understand."

Our 2006 Chevy Express was totaled.  The van the kids had coined "The Beast" was no more.


Obviously a 2006 van wasn't brand new.  Though in 2011 (when we purchased it), it was the newest vehicle we'd ever had.  The money from the insurance wasn't fantastic.  We literally didn't have a clue how we were going to do this.  Then someone in our life stepped forward and upped what we were given by the insurance by $6000.  (Blessing #1 of this story)

So we started looking.  With the size of our family, we had to at least buy a twelve seater....AT LEAST.  We looked.  Friends were great (Shout out Annie, Joan, and Leah!) helping us, putting us in contact with people who may be able to help.  Yet, the vans we thought were "the one" when we read about them, turned out to have major flaws.

The first one had no air conditioning in the back. To tell you how unusual this is, the makers of this model ALWAYS put air conditioners in the back.  Someone had to remove it.  Even the owner of the business hadn't caught this.  In the weather here, our children would cook.  We especially couldn't do that with our special needs blessings.

The next van we looked at, well...we are pretty sure it held farm animals (NO JOKE).  It smelled like goats and...hmmmm....cat urine.  We were told not to worry, they hadn't detailed it yet.

Ummmm....

We started getting discouraged.  I will ashamedly admit a occasional fetal position. Picture a bear curled up in a ball and a person (my husband) poking it with a stick.  Yup.

We couldn't get anywhere in one vehicle. All the vans nice enough were just out of our price range still.

I finally gave up the not sharing everything.  We weren't talking to the dealers much about our family, except it's size.  We decided to share at this point.  We wrote messages to several dealers in the area that had vans within a couple of thousand of our range.

This is where AutoNation comes in.


Immediately my husband got a call back from AutoNation.  It was only a bit down from his work, so he hopped down there on his lunch hour.  He often eats on the run, so this may almost be miracle number two.

When he walked in, he met Scott Sr.  As they talked about the van (and looked over it), they were already willing to bring the van's price WAY down.  They said we could walk out the door for $500 more than we had budgeted.  Awesome, right?!  Yet, my fantastic hubby did the right thing (chuckle) and said, "Let me call my wife."

It would've been hard, but doable.  Notice I say "would've been".

As he called me, Scott went to his amazing manager.  They came back and said, "Forget it, you pay what you have."  Let me share this.  They could've made so much more money on this van.  (Blessing #2)

Scott, if you're reading this...Thomas said it's your fault I cried. (smile)

We were over the moon.

For those of you that know us, you know that we are not a rich family.  Though compared to many, we are I guess.

 We have an older four bedroom home.  We have foundation issues, our carpet is a bazillion years old (ok, maybe not that old) and stained.  Our tile torn in some places.  Our grass...our poor grass desperately needs to be mowed and our trees are a jungle worthy of Tarzan. We have never owned a new car.

We are a normal family.

(You can now cue our friends to all die laughing because no one has ever referred to us as normal before.)

The story is blessed at this point, but it only gets better.

My husband gets a call last week from AutoNation.  They had been apparently trying to get in touch with us for awhile.  They asked us to come to a Customer Appreciation breakfast and were planning to honor us.


Our initial reaction was, "Huh? I wonder what that means."

Maybe we would have had a hint, but Lauren at corporate AutoNation is good.  She not only has an amazing heart, but was excellent as throwing us off any plans.  She talked casually, as she garnered our story, about a Customer Appreciation Breakfast.  She even closed with, "I hope you guys can come."

No big deal, right?  They were probably just sharing a few customer stories.

Side note: You probably think I was one crayon short of a box right now.  In my defense, Lauren IS that good.  Truthfully, as well, you don't think things (like the following story) happen to a normal family. (Cue my friend's laughing again.)

Behind the scene Wendi and many others were putting a big surprise together for our family.  I mean BIG.

I promise I am getting there.  Hold on.

So Wednesday rolls around (the day before the event).  I sat at the doctor's office waiting to speak to him about a little something cool (that story will come later).  I get on Facebook and click on a local Christian station's Facebook page.  I see a post with the opportunity to win four tickets to a Motor Speedway race.

Ya, I dismissed it.

I heard that still voice though.  "Call."

I dismissed it.  I pushed it away.  God would not tell me to call a radio station about tickets.  That's ridiculous.

"Call."

Shoot, I needed to call.

I won.  The day before my husband's birthday, I won.  What an awesome boys night this would be for my husband and some of the kids!

That was just the beginning though.

Thursday morning I got the kids up at 5:20am.  It was like herding cats.  (Have you seen that commercial?)


We got dressed semi nice (this comes from a hoodie and leggings wearing mama) and headed down to get free breakfast.  Hey, don't knock it, we have nine kids! (Smile)

We got there a little early and met Brandon.  We were led to the playroom (since the breakfast was not finished being set up yet) and continue to chat, sharing funny kid stories. (NEVER GIVE YOUR KIDS COFFEE.).  He brought the kids the cutest little race cars.  I think Gabe had three in his pocket before I even knew it.

Still, we had no idea anything was up.

When the time came we were ushered into the dining area.  This is the first time we knew something was going on, but still had no clue a good part of the focus was on our family.

We had walked into a room full of men in suits and immaculately dressed women. (Wow, I spelled immaculately right the first time.  Be impressed.)

There were cameras everywhere.

In the middle of the room....wait, that will give it away....

So we fed the children.  You should have seen their eyes bugging out with all the food. We have some seriously food focused kids in our family. (Laughing)

Shortly we were asked if we could make our way to where everyone was gathering around the stage area.  Apparently this event was in celebrating their 10,000,000th vehicle sold.  It made sense now.

 Cool...(insert the still clueless look)

As I'm wiping egg of off Ben's face and holding little hands that were a little nervous, they started talking about our family.  Ok, though we always garner a little attention walking through the grocery store with the little kids singing "Ten Thousand Reasons," this was not in our realm of experience.

The first part still cracks me up a little bit.  I did not get it at all until about a half an hour before we left.  The CEO (Yes, of all AutoNation...you'd think we'd have a clue by then) tore up our financing for the van.  We didn't finance the van.  I did not understand.  What he did was give us ALL the money back from the 2007 we purchased a few weeks prior and give us that van.  I didn't get that.  THEY BASICALLY GAVE US A VAN!  Yup. brilliant!  That wasn't all though.

They gave us ANOTHER VAN! A BRAND NEW HUGE "MOBILE ARK" OF A VAN!!!!  NO JOKE!!! THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN TO THE NORMAL (cue laughter) FAMILIES!!! WHAT?!!!!!  THEY GAVE US TWO VANS!!!  (BLESSING #3 AND #4!!!!)




Side note: "Mobile Ark" can be credited to Amber. It somehow seems appropriate, though we don't plan on any animal smell.

Side note: This van was the only one of the kind in two States and they had to get it here to us. (Corey and his team ROCK!)

What they may not realize is how joyous we were at the funds as well. (Thank you Bruce and AutoNation!)  These funds will get us through the next stage of bringing home our children!  Yes, we still have 20K-30K to go, but this is a HUGE start!!!! (Blessing #4)

We spent the rest of the morning meeting people I really hope to stay in contact with.  They were neat people.  We were interviewed by the local news and in the bliss, I forgot I hide from cameras. (Don't judge me, everyone has some quirk...lol.)

They not only are paying the taxes on it, and giving us the van, but they also are giving us six years of maintenance, are putting in a rear view camera (they know our concern about not having one with this many children) and a DVD player for the kids (if I heard right).

So, yesterday afternoon we took our first trip in the "Mobile Ark" to the zoo and I spent the day writing this blog in my head.

Gave, Bekah, and Rachel

BenJAMMIN'




This is little Levi.  He joined our family at the zoo yesterday. Seriously cuteness personified.

Chocolate covered bugs.  Yup...

The crazy one in the pic above and below is our daughter Anna.  
Though Farrah and Hannah can hold their own too (smile).


Max, having to put up with the girls.

Thomas called me on the way home.  He said that the blessings didn't stop.  AutoNation called again, after we had shared we were going to the Motor Speedway soon.  Their Indy Driver (Ryan Hunter-Reay) was there, so they offered us tickets an Indy Race. SOOOO since it happens on a Saturday night and late (Church the next morning), Thomas and I will be on a double date with our friends Tom and Wendy.  It's been awhile. (Blessing #5).

We wanted to share this story, not JUST to say what an amazing organization AutoNation is (IT IS), but more than that.

You see, we have a house full of treasures.  They are worth more any material possession we could own.  Their worth is eternal.  We are not good or great, we are blessed.  Those blessings came from one place...OUR HEAVENLY FATHER.  We don't always have the money for things.  Yet, we have everything we need.

People ask how we do it all the time.  There is only one answer...GOD.

He enables you to do whatever He has put before you.  Sometimes it may feel like your are hanging on with your last shred of strength, but He is there.  When you let go, free falling, God's Arms are there to catch your broken spirit and heal it...bringing it to a place where He can prop you up again, like a toddler, and teach you to walk a road you never imagined you would step foot on.  It may be a joyful or a painful one.  You can do it, WITH GOD.

Not only that, but with God you can do things you never imagined.

We also hear a lot of, "We don't have the funds. This leading seems crazy, it can't be right. We can't do this right now, maybe in the future."

Many are worried about stepping out without knowing where their foot will land.  It's understandable and natural.  But God is not within our box to understand.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
          Isaiah 55:8-9
Following God is often the opposite of what our human nature says.  God often wants us to listen to Him first and trust that HE knows where our foot will land. HE will guide our steps.  Whether it's an adoption, a job change, the mission field....agree to follow Him and watch our HEAVENLY FATHER in HIS MIGHT!  He is NOT a dead beat dad.  HE LEADS AND HE PROVIDES.

The following is NOT to pat ourselves on the back, but glorify God.  We have never gone into an adoption journey having the funds.  People may think that is nuts.  The WORLD may think that's nuts.  Yet God leads us to our children.  When He says, "GO!" we must follow.  God has provided for each adoption fully.

Please listen to God.  When we listen to Him, He blows us out of the water EVERY.TIME.

"Don't set your expectations to low with regard to what God will produce in you and through you. It will be far more than you can imagine. And don't let your expectations of yourself be so high that you cannot appreciate the fruit He is producing in your life right now. Put your expectations in the Lord. Expect that He will keep His Word and produce great things in you and through you." 
Stormie Omartian "Lead Me Holy Spirit"

So, if you are discouraged and not seeing or feeling God right now, know His Plan may not appear tomorrow, but He may be sitting in motion something that you can't even fathom.  He IS, He was, He always will be.

Have a blessed week friends! Thank you for joining us in our blessing!

"Come and hear, all you who fear God;
    let me tell you what he has done for me." 

                                                    Psalm 66:16

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Little More:

Thank you to all our old friends and our new friends at AutoNation.  There are just SO many people that I didn't list.  You all ROCK!!! We are STILL processing this and will be forever grateful for your kindness and love to our family.  I think it will be hard to keep us in the house now! :-)

Funniest quote from Facebook:
JuanYou know what they say. Sometimes when God closes a door he opens a van window

The older van:  My husband and I may be selling our 2007 van.  To afford insurance, we may need to do this (there is also another blessing attached to doing this as well).  We will have to take at least $4000 of that money to buy my husband another small used vehicle for him to drive to work.  His vehicle has been eating at me for the last few months.  It is falling apart.  It's not safe.  Though a beautiful friend donated some money to fix it, it (even then) would only hold together maybe another year.  It can't even be inspected at this point.  It's a 2000 Suburban with over 200,000 miles on it.  Ya....the Suburban will hopefully be sold this weekend.  The van we are still trying to noodle what we will do.

The positive is that the remainder of the money (after getting Thomas a small used car) would also go toward the adoption and bring us a bit farther (maybe around half way there).  (Blessing #6)



9 comments:

  1. God is so good! So happy for you all! Much love, J'Nan

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  2. Love the stories God gives you to tell!

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  3. So amazing to see how God is working in your lives! I am not adopting for now but your words are encouragement to me even where I am, and also a challenge to trust more. Thank you for sharing

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  4. And I thought you were napping! LOL! ((((BIG HUGS))) Thanking God!

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  5. SUCH AMAZING NEWS! I cried through reading it!

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  6. God is sooooo good! Thank you for sharing so we can rejoice with you!

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  7. I am crying AGAIN!! I am so totally blown away that they ALSO paid the taxes--I was thinking that could be a burden! And you have some sprinkled clues in here, my friend, that made me giggle. Freudian slips, I'm sure!! :D :D :D

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  8. Kat,
    Thank you so much for sending us this link...What an incredible story of generosity by Autonation and of God moving in y'all's lives!!! He truly does provide... all the time! God is so good! Thank you for the encouragement! Praying for the adoptions...
    Richard B.

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In the joy of following our Heavenly Father, we sometimes choose to proceed with a whisper, a verse, or a downright shove...no matter how we follow Him, the momentum that follows is like nothing we've ever experienced before.

Join the momentum...it is a beautiful place to be. It's not always easy, but then the best things never are.

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