Archive for ‘cars’

October 27, 2010

Jobless for a Year

Today is a special anniversary, one I will never forget – October 27, 2009 will always be a special day for me. Indeed, it is a day I reckon as an anniversary. For it was on this day last year that I was laid off. Why is this good news? It is good news because I must give glory to God for providing for us – not that he had any obligation to do so, but he found it within his pleasure to do so and so we praise him for such mercy.

I remember the day well. It was as surreal as my wedding day and the birth of my firstborn. I felt detached as I knowingly packed up my personal belongings into two boxes full of pictures and children’s artwork, carrying each one into the car – separately, to prolong the inevitable. I remember the gracious, and last, conversation I had with my employer. Sales just were not coming in, my place just could not be rationalized. Saying our goodbyes I drove home wondering. My thoughts were mostly on my family – my wife and children. How could I provide for them? We had not a month’s worth of savings in the account. In less than a week a mortgage would be due with no funding to go towards it. But my thoughts also turned towards God. What was he doing? What was the lesson? Where is this journey suppose to take us? In many ways I felt I was driving down a tunnel. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but drive as I might, no matter how long or how fast it never got closer. It was always a dim, distant light. That was how I felt.

And a year has passed. We have not missed one bill. We have not had one late payment. Our pantry stocked almost the entire year and just recently needed replenishing. We have not gone hungry or cold. Indeed, we have had extra. We have been so overwhelmingly abundantly supplied for that our cup has run more than over. And still we live paycheck to paycheck. Only there is no regular, dependable paycheck this time. It has come from odd jobs, temp jobs and the love of others.

How then does a family of five survive for an entire year with perhaps four to five months worth of odd jobs? The answer is God. He is our all. Of course, I should not have been surprised. He has been the author of all our provisions in the past and will continue to be in the future. Why would it be different now? We have been given six (or seven – we’ve been given a truck since this post) cars in a row as a foretaste of this time. Consider them the first fruits of how God pays a salary.

Of course, this is no indictment on those who God has not provided for in this way in their lives though they are in desperate need. God’s grace is in response to nothing in us. It has just been his good pleasure. But let us not forget those who are in need tonight – desperate need.  Right around the corner there are senior adults who must choose between a mortgage and medicine. And there is a 30 something couple with children in tow looking for an overpass to sleep under tonight. The orphans, by law or death, are waiting for someone to live with them – just live. And the widows are slumbering in cold, cockroach infested nursing homes tonight chewing their nails as they live the glory days when someone just came to visit. If anything, this time has told me to go and do likewise to these. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 11 that the proclamation of the Gospel is accompanied by something else. Matthew 11:2-6

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent a message by his disciples  and asked Him, “Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”  Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:  the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news.  And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed.”

This year, in review, has taught me many fine lessons. More than I care to share here. But let me leave you with a life vision for me. This isn’t my vision as a pastor – I have that, nor is this my vision as a husband – I have that too, and it is not my vision as a parent or child, rather this is simply my vision as a Christian.

I had a preaching professor who had a doubloon made in New Orleans that he gave to all his students. One one side it read “Preach the Word” in Koine Greek. I don’t remember the either side. I still got that doubloon somewhere. But if I were to do an imprinting of a doubloon or coin on one side it would say, “Those who please God walk by faith.” And on the other side it would read, “Seek you first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” For these two sides of the coin are really the same thing. This is my vision because I want to be holy as God is holy. I want to hear from him “well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Finally, then, as I sit and ponder what a year it has been I am forced to take a deep breath and admit I’m yet to know what it means to walk by faith but now, Dear Father, I ask that you take me there.

I pray peace to you all in the name of Jesus Christ.

June 9, 2010

My Most Famous Recipe of All

I like to call this recipe IT HAS BEEN A GREAT NINE YEARS BEAUTIFUL LADY.

Recipe follows:

Ingredients:

3 parts princesses
1 part Hurricane Katrina
1 Part Fiasco at Festus
1 Part Job Loss
6-7 Parts Cars
1 miscarriage
2 willing servants
1 Awesome God

Cooking instructions:

Take two willing servants and bake into cohesive mold with Awesome God. Take out of oven and add two cars. While still warm add miscarriage. Continue to hold steady with Awesome God. while cooling add another car and two princesses. Mix in blender with Hurricane Katrina. Take out of blender using Awesome God. Form should still be in mold as held together by Awesome God. Add another car and another princess. Throw into food processor and dice with Fiasco at Festus. Do silly dance of praise because food processor can’t put asunder what Awesome God has put together. Add another car, mix with job loss, bake for nine years, take out of oven and add another car. Recipe calls for many more years of exciting ingredients to be added, proceed with joy.

Thanks for the wonderful years my sweet lady. Dare I say I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us next. Love you bunches.

July 31, 2009

A Chronology of Cars

Life markers are a wonderful tool to map out our personal journeys. Things such as a weddings, birth dates, graduation dates, and even Hurricane Katrina. We also have a chronology of cars. Our chronology is much like the Jews’ chronology in that God says “Remember!” such as “Remember when you were slaves in the Land of Egypt and I delivered you.” Unfortunately human nature, especially as it relates to God, is one of amnesia. It is hard to remember the blessings of bygone days as today’s worries crowd and vie for your attention. This is part of our family’s effort to remember.

Being burden to attend seminary, we acted in faith starting in 1999-2000 despite our pockets being empty. Since then and because of our incredible lack of monetary funds, it has pleased God to provide us five vehicles in a row to meet our needs (Matthew 6:25-34). All five vehicles given to us. Our disclaimer is that God does not owe it to us to provide our vehicles. This idea would be disingenuous to all those believers who are starving throughout the world today and in centuries past. We recognize it as God’s pure mercy and grace and it amazes us as a family as much today as in days past.

All my statisticians out there do the math for me of the likelihood of one family being given five vehicles in a row – all running well. I think your equation will point to a supernatural agent.
Here is our chronology:

1. 1998 Mazda 626 – Date Given: August 2000; died in car crash .Given by a family leaving to do missionary work in Romania for a year. Even though they were coming back to the states they gave this car to me after hearing about my need of a vehicle in order to move to N’awlins to begin Seminary. I received the vehicle a few days before I had to leave.

2. 1988 Ford Escort – Date Given: 2002; given to charity. While in seminary, someone ran a red light and slammed into the Mazda leaving me without a car. After our marriage, Rachelle and I survived with one car for a while. However, being a pastor intern began to pose problems to our schedule of school and work along side ministry. I asked a wonderful couple at our church about the possibility of buying their Ford Escort. The following Sunday they gave it to us knowing we really didn’t have the money to purchase it.
3. 1999 Pontiac Montana – Date Given: 2004; still with us! A few years and two children later we discovered a real problem as the Escort formed an oil leak. Our problem? Packing our children (with car seats) and other items every weekend to go an hour and half a way to do ministry in a small rural church in Louisiana. Some of our wonderful friends parted with this wonderful van; although, they had real use of it too with seven kids! This van continues to be an amazing blessing to us to this day. We’re praying for another ten years from it.

4. 1990 Toyota Camry – Date Given: September 2005; going to a charity soon. After Katrina we thought we had lost our Cavalier (which Rachelle bought before we got married – it is the last car we bought and that was over a decade ago!). A wonderful family in Richmond heard about this and gave us their son’s car (he got another one).

5. 1998 Honda Accord – Date Given: July 2009; still breaking in this speedster. Pray I won’t get a ticket. 🙂 I admit that I’ve always wanted a Honda. We had our brothers and sisters advocating for us before God’s throne room. A very dear family to us had an interesting conversation recently. One said she thought she would just donate her car this year instead of using it as a trade-in for a new car. Here we are driving in a car that provides more than we need. Thank you God!

6. HA! HA! You thought I was done! WRONG! 1998 Chevy S10 – Date Given: March 2009; returned in July 2009 to its joyful and gracious owners. This last time we were in desperate need for a vehicle as the Toyota finally conked out on us. With a penance to our name, and a job that requires a presentable, drivable vehicle a couple loaned us their practically brand new S10 for almost five months (it had less than 13,000 miles on it when we borrowed it). Did I mention I had a hit-n-run while driving this truck. Well – it was like new. 😦

Here is our chronology, meant to encourage and embolden you in your walk with the Lord. We look to it as a reminder as we walk in faith into a future where there are many questions concerning from where our provisions will come. God has already told you – the world is his and all that is in it. Like you, we stand on the edge of eternity looking forward. Little tastes such as this, while completely incomparable to the infinite joy we will experience and grow in days eternal, still give us a view to that which we exult in and desire.