I have to tell you all the story of the Van. It has a story. Really. Which is what makes me such a heel, wanting to get rid of it and into another one. Shame, shame on me.
I'm counting backwards - hold on. Okay. Three and a half years ago, while in Florida, the Hunny and I talked sporadically about getting a larger vehicle. We owned a Ford Ranger (his Tonka truck) and a Ford Focus wagon. The wagon was the family car, it was fairly new, but the kids were outgrowing it. Lessee ... Maybelline would have been 12, Oatmeal Head 11 and Little Guy 8. All three in the back seat. Dogs in the way back. Luggage where? And the legs on my children stretching like crazy.
The problem was debt. We owed a family member for the vehicles and were on a long-term payment plan. There was no way we'd be able to sell the Focus and get into another car or van. So we scrunched ourselves up and rode around in it. In fact, about five years ago, not long after we got it, the kids and I took a two week road trip from Orlando to Louisiana to Tulsa to Tupelo to Atlanta to Orlando. Listened to the entire Hobbit on CD. Best road trip ever, except for my horrid ear ache. Without the Hunny, the 4 of us were comfortable in the Focus.
The Hunny decided to start asking God for a minivan. I thought he was crazy, since I had a better handle on our financial situation. You know, because God's not big enough to handle a little debt and things like getting us into another vehicle without incurring more debt. He's small that way. Right? But I started praying for it too. Just not very seriously. I'm very much an inside-the-box thinker.
One day a friend of ours, the church accountant and my coffee buddy (hi Nipper! I miss you!!!), came to us. She knew we were the clown family in our tiny car and had been praying about a minivan. Oh, alright. Maybe she'd just heard me complain enough to think we needed something bigger. But it seemed a couple had inherited a Dodge Grand Caravan from a couple of missionaries several years prior and this couple had sent their last kids off to college and were looking for a new family to acquire it. They didn't want to sell it, since it had been given to them. They'd maintained it well over the years. Leather seats, deluxe features. Very nice. nine years old. Ran well.
The Hunny and I talked it over. My first statement was, "If someone's going to give us a minivan, we have to give away our Focus - to my friend Nipper." She'd been driving a much older vehicle, one which was held together with duct tape and baling wire, I think. The only problem was that we owed a bunch of money on the Focus. Man! That meant praying some more. I wasn't sure I was up to praying about it. I mean, sure God proved He was able to get us a minivan, but we still owed money! Let's not get carried away here.
So we said yes, we'd love to have the van, but it was conditional. We had to be able to give our car to our friend, who was okay with that. So the van was parked. For six months. I'd go over and pat it occasionally, tell it I wasn't neglecting it intentionally, but that I couldn't afford tags and tax and insurance yet. We still owed a butt load of money on the newer car. Dang it.
We were going through a rough patch with the family member to whom we owed the money (not because of the money). We made the decision to sell our house we'd been in for seven years. The house I'd ripped carpet out of and stained the cement floors for six months. The house I'd painted every color known to mankind. The house I learned to lay tile in. The house my kids had grown up in. The house we grew and changed as a family in. The house which was home. It was a tough decision, but the right one. So we cleaned it up, put it on the market, moved to a rental and waited. That was the fall of '05.
Did I mention that seven years before, we'd purchased the house, all 1588 square feet, for 88,000 dollars? Yeah. And that we listed it for 256k? Uh huh. I protested. No house that size is worth that much, regardless of what a realtor tells you. Evidently another family thought it was and we closed on it in December. A month later it wasn't, but it was no longer ours. The bottom dropped out of the housing market about two weeks after the house sold. Don't you tell me there's no God. We totally didn't deserve to sell that house. Especially not then.
As soon as the check cleared, we wrote a check to the family member for the entire amount of our debt to them. We then switched tags and titles to the van, writing the title on the Focus over to our friend, Nipper. God gave us that van. Big time. It's taken us halfway across the country twice. The Hunny was reminding me of this when I wanted to look at vans. Especially when the appraiser told me that it would make some family a great van because it's in great shape. I've kept it maintained. It's a good vehicle, I guess.
So I'm sorry for grousing about our gift. I forget so easily. Especially when it's hot and the A/C doesn't work. But it IS a gift. And we all fit. It runs. Well. I just wanted to tell you all the story. Thanks for listening.
Just for fun, here's a shot of its rear end. I was most upset about giving it up because of this:
We were never a bumper sticker family till we got this van. These stickers tell of our travels. I love them. We've added more since I took this. The sticker at the top is my favorite, and I'll order another one when we get another van (eventually it will happen). Here's a better shot of it:
Glornak the Destroyer is part of the family.
Until I write again ...