Saturday, July 13, 2013

We're Officially a Mini-van Family ~ a Picture Update

Here's a few pictures... we're still loving our Cinderella and everyday we feel so blessed. In case you missed the story of how we became a mini-van family you can read that story here.

Our van driving up

We must have made quite a spectacle!

"it's the van we've been praying for!"

In amazed shock!
With a big red bow on top

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

We are Officially a Mini-Van Family ~ the Story PART ONE

David has the pics with the red bow on top on his phone and we are trying to get some pictures from our "paparazzi"  - I will post more pics soon

I have an amazing story to tell you. I'm a little bit nervous that I'll miss telling you details, but I'll do my best to relay the story as we know it. It's my hope that over time everyone involved will know how grateful we are and that this story will be a blessing to many people. It's funny, I'm not even sure where to begin... well, I guess I have an idea. It began over a year ago. We began praying that God would provide for us a van. You need to understand that with debt and low income, we knew that we were in no position to purchase one. We were even offered great deals, but the only deal we could afford was free. We know that God has always been faithful to provide for us and that it wasn't too big to ask. A year ago, I had a picture of an old, run-down van that would do. I didn't have much faith beyond that at the time. I knew God could provide a sweet ride, but I wasn't ready to ask for that. We continued to pray for a van and wait on the Lord.

In January, during my reading and studying of the Bible, I came across a Luke chapter 11, where Jesus tells a parable to teach about prayer. I'd read it before, but something caught my attention in a new way. In verse 8.

"...yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need."
I felt like this was a personal invitation, from God, to pray audacious prayers.  I upped the ante on what I was praying for in a van. I didn't initially tell many people. I kinda felt embarrassed by the boldness of what I was asking God for. I began to pray for a sweet ride. I did eventually share with my dear friends at Ladies Morning Out and the ladies of our housegroup Bible study. I invited them to pray with me.

Our financial journey took a turn for the worse, when David and I realized that our credit card had gotten out of hand. We were so embarrassed and I felt, especially, that I needed to confess to the dear ladies praying with me about what we had done. I have always been very vocal about how God is our provider and yet we had turned to our credit card to provide. I wanted to be upfront and honest about everything. I didn't want shame to steal from anyone. I asked the ladies to meet me and I shared with them the truth. I was so blown away by their love and grace. Instead of condemnation, I was faced with their love and prayers. Such beautiful friendship! I am in tears in remembrance.

Fast forward. It's June 5th and I'm receiving incredible news. A lady in our church first sent me a message and then I made her call me, so I could hear it in person. She told me that God put it on her heart that they needed to do something about our van, beyond praying. Her husband suggested that they pray for a month and see what God would do. That was at the beginning of May, and since the month was up, things were set in motion. K, (I'm refraining from using names, only because I haven't asked permission to share) then began to email people she knew at church and share what was on her heart. Low and behold, K wasn't the only one with the same desire.

This is where the details are thin on our end. We've been told "Cole's Notes" versions of the story from different people, but I will attempt to tell all we know. In the meantime, another dear lady, S, had already been approaching our Ladies Morning Out group with the idea of giving us a van. From what I understand they were praying together about giving towards a van and about the full provision of that van. One friend told me that it was a faith stretching time for everyone and it was very exciting to be a part of it. Another friend said to me that it was so neat to "see" both sides of prayer. The prayer for the provision and the prayers of giving.

This was still not everyone who felt the urge to help. I understand that there were many people who "couldn't resist helping".

Back to June 5, what we were told was that there would be a fundraiser party that we would be invited to attend and that those efforts would be used towards our van. Of course, we were so blown away and blessed. I am a professed "in-the-loop-junkie" and so being out of the loop as far as the details were concerned was "killing me". I kept dreaming about our van and was just so excited. The reason we were told at this point was so that we wouldn't feel like people were talking about us in whispers and perhaps be wondering what was going on. K, was especially concerned about this and we are honoured to know that people were concerned for our feelings. Aside from this, we were kept completely in the dark. My David tried to get details. Boy, did he try. We knew that a lot of people were involved and we were told many times just how loved we are.

Our Lady Blue began stalling out on us. We knew the van was coming, we just didn't know when. David asked a friend, we knew who knew details, if we should get our car into the mechanic and taken care of, or if she would last long enough. He assured us that she would last. It was really nice to know that we didn't need to invest money in our dear, sweet, but old car. Making plans began to be a bit tricky. We didn't drive her very far, but she lasted. In case you didn't hear her story you can read about that here.

Yesterday was Canada Day. Yesterday we were given our beautiful van. There's a story to tell about that, too. My girlfriend, had called about a week ago asking if we wanted to get together for Canada Day and would we be willing to host a little backyard BBQ. We have a great yard, that backs onto a park, perfect for families with littles. We were happy to have a party. J said that she'd send out the invitation (at that point I thought it was just a few of our close friends and their families) and that we wouldn't need to do anything special just host. I love a good party, so that was just great. Canada Day, by the way, is one of my favourite holidays. I especially miss my family at this time of year, so a party was just the right thing for us to do to celebrate. Now, I knew that J had talked to people and not everyone had responded via the invitation, but as it was a potluck type of party, I wasn't too concerned about knowing how many to expect. I also wasn't too surprised when certain people showed up that I didn't know were coming. Great cover story. I kept thinking, the more the merrier.

This is where it gets crazy. J gets up and has a "little" presentation to make. She reveals that the party was a ruse in order to give us a token of what was yet to come. We were then presented with a huge cheque. "A faith deposit" so to speak. Did I mention how hot it was outside yesterday? Well, I was beginning to really feel the heat.

I need to tell you some of the details about the van I was praying for. The three important requests were:

  1. air conditioning
  2. cruise control
  3. tinted windows
These were pretty important to us. Then there was my embarrassingly audacious requests:
  1. stow 'n' go seats
  2. DVD player
  3. pretty blue or red colour
  4. with a big red bow on top
Back to the party, I'm busy with Malachi and I hear "...van with a big red bow on top!" I didn't hear anything about what was going on, but that phrase caught my attention, immediately. I snap my head my head up and look at David, who is becoming increasingly redder in the face. I am then beginning to notice that there are cameras and phones pointed at us like our yard is full of paparazzi. Seriously! Someone is saying "David, what did you see?" I grabbed my closest little (not even sure if it was Micah or Malachi), I can hear someone saying something about gathering my other littles as we all head out to the street in front of our house. There we saw more people we know and love. It seemed to me that a whole line of people kept coming out the van (I'm not even sure who drove it and who arrived in it, but in the chaos, it seemed full of people). Yes, there was a big red bow on top. Yes, it has all the things we were praying for and more! The cheque we were given earlier was for the insurance for a year and in a card was also gift cards for gasoline. A lot of gasoline. 

I should make note here, that the fundraiser was not needed. Basically we were told that, people were just so excited to give this van to us that they the couple collecting for the van were just handed money left and right and the there was no need to do a fundraiser. They raised enough just from people giving. J & S, the couple who did the "leg work". Found the perfect van, had it safetied, and the paperwork etc taken care of, including temporary insurance so we could drive her that day. We also decided that we would name the van, Cinderella. This made perfect sense to us as the temporary insurance was to expire at midnight and her colour is about the same as the cartoon Cinderella's dress.

My Malachi did not want to get out of the van. He sat on a back seat for a very long time. His hunger was the only motivation for him to come out, eventually. My David told me later, that it was so hard for him to not ignore everyone and sit in the van with Malachi. I was a HOT MESS! I was really wishing for a shower and some fresh deodorant at this point and hoping that everyone knew just how blessed we were feeling. I am not the most demonstrative person. There was no screaming and jumping up and down, but I assure you I am soooooo blessed and thankful. I am sorry for anyone who hugged me and got a nose full, so to speak. With three littles, I had plenty to keep me focused on for the remainder of the party. Not my best hosting job, I can say for sure. 

There is so much more to say and many adventures to take. I will continue posting more as the children nap or whatever time we are not adventuring in the van. David is on his way home from autopac and we'll be off again, soon. 

Thank you to everyone who contributed, who prayed with us and who so generously love us.