And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28
What appears to be misfortune can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. I found this to be true for our family after we experienced two serious car accidents. Four years ago, when I was pregnant with Donny, I was driving to my mom's birthday party one afternoon when an SUV pulled out in front of me. The inevitable collision caused the air bag to deploy, scraping open my hand, and my car was totaled. Since I (thankfully!) wasn't at fault, I was able to replace my Plymouth Neon with a Dodge Neon of the same year, and the settlement for my injuries paid off the little that I owed on the car.
A year and a half later, a similar accident totaled Don's two door Ford, a car that was relatively useless for a family hauling an oversize car seat and jogging stroller (not to mention that it was a standard, and I never learned how to drive it). With the insurance money, we paid off the remaining debt on the Ford and have been blessedly debt-free ever since. We briefly discussed the possibility of being a one car family, but I recoiled in horror at the thought. And at the time, with Don's long commute to work and my frequent prenatal checkups, it would not have been very practical. We decided to purchase an older, roomier car that would be both efficient for commuting and suitable for the whole family.
What we didn't realize was that our trusty new (to us) vehicle was apparently a victim of the recent local flooding. After nearly two years and a few repairs, the brakes went out, and because the bottom of the car was completely rusted, it would have cost nearly as much as the car was worth to repair it. Unwilling to waste money fixing a car that was likely to die soon anyway, we began to research minivans; after all, we would need a bigger vehicle whenever God blessed us with another baby, and it was a tight squeeze to fit even our family of four into the Neon. But after we test drove a few of the most promising used models, we couldn't justify spending our entire life savings on a van that made strange clicking noises whenever we used the brake. In retrospect, with this summer of skyrocketing gas prices, we have been very thankful that we did not sacrifice the Neon's better gas mileage for a bigger vehicle that we did not truly need.
And so, one sunny day last April, our children watched intently through the window as a flatbed trailer came to tow away Daddy's car. We had decided to donate the car to charity and to live with one car, at least temporarily. Don would take the Neon to work Monday through Friday. I would no longer be able to attend a weekday morning Bible Study, but the study I was participating in had just ended anyway. I would also need to reschedule my Monday morning grocery shopping trip. Don volunteered to stop at the grocery store on his way home from work, and I - having done 100% of the grocery shopping since we were first married - protested at first, but agreed to try it.
As it turns out, my husband is a very competent shopper. After the success of his first trip, he has taken over my weekly responsibility. Every Monday I email him the grocery list, and he buys exactly what I request. Yes, exactly - nothing extra, nothing forgotten. I remember one cold winter when my boys were small and bundling them up for a trek to the supermarket was an all day affair, I looked into the possibly of an online grocery delivery service, but we were concerned about the delivery charge and the possibility of getting bruised fruit, wilted veggies, and about-to-expire milk. Now I have the best of both worlds: I don't have to wrestle a toddler into his shoes and jacket and then try to keep him entertained and seated while I manuever through crowded aisles with a baby strapped to my chest. I have another free morning to spend at home, catching up on chores or just having fun with the children. And on Monday night, we herald the arrival of a certain Dodge Neon much the way others would look for a familiar delivery truck, for the boys and I know that Daddy will be coming home with bags full of our favorite foods.
For our other shopping needs, I have long since relied on the Internet. I buy toiletries, vitamins, diapers (both cloth and disposable), gifts, and even clothing online. (I get all of my disposable diapers and wipes at Diapers.com; they also have a large selection of other baby products, including several natural ones. You can enter referral code 4thelambs to receive $10 off your first order.) We have gotten to know the mail carrier and the UPS man because we are continually receiving packages. We are also blessed to live within walking distance of many places. By foot and stroller, the children and I have returned library books to the book drop, mailed packages in the big blue mailbox, bought milk at the gas station, picked up prescriptions at the pharmacy, shopped at the discount store, walked to my doctor appointments, and even attended a free class at Gymboree. If we ever wanted to eat fast food, we would have a wide selection of restaurants to choose from, and it's not too far to a bakery or a used book store. We can even drop the car off for an oil change and walk home while we wait. But even with all these interesting destinations near by, I can't say that giving up my car has sent me running out of the house. In fact, I have hardly missed having a car at all; it seems perfectly normal and wonderful to be home all of the time. Since we became a one car family, I have experienced so many blessings, but to avoid making this post excessively long, the details will have to wait for next time.