Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Adventures with Mavis

"Only weird people don't have car loans." ~ Dave Ramsey.

Um, Dave? I'm okay with being weird, really, but you forgot to add on this little qualifier: "...however, you pay the bank or you pay the parts store."

Mavis is, indeed, twenty-five years old, and no matter how sugar-coated you want to make that by stating that she has been garaged her whole life, driven by one older gentleman, and accrued less than 100K miles, it doesn't change that fact.

Everything's.... sticky. Or needs tuning, greasing, flushing, or filling.

Okay, maybe it's just the gas tank that needs filling. CONSTANTLY.


So, yeah. The first time I drove Mavis was Christmas morning. Colby went early to prep for his class and the kids and I followed a little later.

"It has some play in the steering, but we'll straighten that out in a few days.", he said.

Some PLAY in the steering?!?! I was driving a BOAT! On a snowy road, man!! I backed out of the driveway, put it in drive and headed toward the bridges.

"Oh!", I exclaimed as I turned the wheel a full half-rotation before anything happened.

"Oh DEAR!!" I burst out as the overcorrection for said half-rotation nearly put me in the field.

And so went my first couple of times driving the old beast. Once upon a time I was a good driver. No really, I was! And then I had kids and began driving like a cautious elderly granny. I scootched the seat forward as far as it would go, hunched over the steering wheel and clutched it tightly as I drove 10 under the speed limit.

"Whippersnappers!", I'd screech at the people passing me. I'd have pointed my finger at them accusingly, too, but that would mean letting go of the wheel with one hand, now wouldn't it?

I stayed home as much as I could, and hallelujah, it was Christmas break so I didn't have to haul kids to school and back twice a day 'cause at the speed I was driving it was taking 40 minutes instead of 20 each way.

Of course, acquiring a new vehicle the week of Christmas presented its own problems. Like managing to get all the paperwork shuffled and in the hands of the lovely people at the Secretary of State on a day they were actually open. Which would NOT be Christmas Eve. Or the Day Before Christmas Eve. Or the day before that, a day they are usually open late, but decided to close early since it was two and a half days before Christmas, you see.

Then there was the time we left the keys to the new vehicle in the in-laws car and didn't realize it until it was time to pick up the kids from school. As in, they're AT school, I'm at HOME, and there are NO KEYS to go start the car and drive 20 min. to get them. By that time the in-laws (and the keys) had been on the road for more than 3 hours....

Well, thank goodness for family that live nearby and can help out in a pinch!

That was Tuesday.

We stayed home on Wednesday.

Thursday started without a hitch, the car started fine, drove the kids to school without problems, though the snow was starting to come down pretty hard. I watched out the big window at home as the snow fell hard for the next 6 hours.

I'd better get an extra early start, I said to myself as I packed up the two little ones. We set out 40 minutes before the end of the school day. I took it easy until we got into town, but they had a foot of new snow and no one wants to be the idiot who causes the wreck in traffic, so I pulled into a parking lot and pulled the lever on the floorboard into 4WD.

I was kind of nervous to be trying out the 4WD since there was that one time we were driving and it made all sorts of awful grinding/crunching/knocking sounds and Colby mentioned he thought the hub was sticking on the passenger side. I'd been avoiding the lever on the floor all week thanks to that incident.

But with all that snow and craziness on Thursday I decided it was time to give it a go.

I made it all of two miles.

And then the grinding/crunching/knocking sound hit like a force to be reckoned with and brought with it a shake in the steering wheel that had me completely freaked out.

"There's something WRONG with the car!!!" I yelled into the phone. I had the phone on speaker and sitting in my lap 'cause I needed BOTH hands to do anything with that car.


"SERIOUSLY! Honey, there's something WRONG!" I whined.

"Well, I kind of need you to DESCRIBE it to me if you want me to help you sort it out.", he replied.

"I.... I don't KNOW what it is, there's something grinding or something or banging-kind-of-like and I can't hardly do ANYTHING with it!".

"Where are you?"

"I'm... I'm on THE ROAD!" I exclaimed as I tried desperately to get the car turned into the parking lot of the local country store.

~silence~ (which, I'm sure was the result of him biting his tongue back from yelling, DUH!!!)

"I think the hub must be sticking again; I just put it in four-wheel drive a few minutes ago.", I said as I got out in the heavy snowfall to inspect the front passenger wheel.

Well, it looked fine, so I kicked it for good measure and climbed back in.

"What am I going to do? I need to get the kids from school and I'm already late!!!", I clutched the phone with one hand and cranked the wheel with the other as I tried to turn around in the unplowed parking lot.

It wasn't working. My three-point turn became a seven-point turn and I still wasn't pointing straight out of the driveway.

"You need to back it up about 20 feet or so to get it to disengage the 4WD from the one side and then you'll be completely out of it. Then you can keep going and I'll take a look at it tonight."

About that time I realized I was sitting directly in the way of a big truck pulling a trailer trying to get past me.

"There's NO WAY I can back this thing UP 20 feet in this parking lot!!" I cried, "I'm IN the WAY of someone and I can't get it to do ANYthing and I just need to GO and get the kids NOW!!!" My poor husband could tell I was on the verge of tears and needed to be talked down off my shelf again, so he told me calmly to just continue on down the road, take it easy, and that I couldn't break anything he couldn't fix.

So I pulled back out onto the road and the poor thing thumped along as best it could. It was slow going, but all I cared about right then was that there was some sort of forward progression. I could hardly get any traction at all going up the long hill, but I mashed my foot to the floor and kept going.

Of course, that foot mashed to the floor thing backfired as soon as we reached the top and nearly spun around. Somehow we managed to keep the back end behind the front end, and a little while later made it to the school. I pulled into the school yard and shoved the shifter up into park.

I thought as I jumped out in the driving snow and ran up the steps. One of the teachers stood close by and was reassuring the kids that their mom would, indeed, be there soon.

Even though I'd left home early I still arrived 20 minutes late.

The kids ran to the car and jumped in, and while I was helping Emmy up into the back seat I noticed.... something.... a little askew:

Okay, maybe a LOT askew. On the REAR passenger tire. Guess I should have peeked a little at the rear tire instead of just taking a futile kick at the front.

Not my finest hour of automobile ownership there.

I called Colby, Colby called his cousin, and we sat in the cold car and waited. It wouldn't have been a cold car except that I was dangerously close to empty by then and the last thing I needed was to run out of gas on top of all this so I shut it off.

Mavis doesn't call me a "Ding-Dong". Apparently that's not always a good thing.

"Is everything all right?" I heard a voice ask and turned to see the kids' teacher huddled under her coat next to the car. Next thing I knew all the kids were warmly ensconced in the schoolhouse and I stood sipping hot tea at the window, watching Colby's cousin fix my tire. All said, it took an hour and an uncle to come with an air compressor to fill the tire enough to get us home. The kids played happily and the baby sat contentedly in her seat through the whole thing. I'd never been more thankful for a hot cup of tea in my life.

Again, I am so grateful for family that helps out in a pinch, and thankful for the great teachers at the kids' school that stayed late, made me tea, and helped with the kids so tremendously.

But most of all, I am thankful for a husband that can fix anything. Since we bought Mavis he has given up several of his free days to work on her. If he didn't have the tools and ability to fix the old car, we'd have no choice but to have a newer car and most likely a car loan. Without his dedication to keeping wood ready for the fire, fix things like the car, the washing machine, and the well, we would have a much harder time making due on one income. I am so blessed to be able to stay at home with my kids!

But sometimes the stay-at-home-Momma road is a little more adventurous than I bargained for!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's edition of Adventures with Mavis, where I'll regale you with stories of the brakes going out and how I scarred the guys at the tire store for life.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Meet Mavis

There is no Bose stereo system.

Instead, there's a tape deck and a readout that doesn't light up all the way making it impossible to tell what station you're on.

There are no heated leather seats.

Instead, there are three cloth covered bench seats.

There is no Latch system to hook up the carseats in a flash.

Instead, there are.... lap belts?? Uh, guess I need to read the carseat manuals to remember how to hook up the things properly with just a lap belt.

There is no digital clock, thermometer or compass.

Instead, there is a screw-on old-style compass right on the very top of my dash.

That doesn't work.

And a window to look out to tell me what the weather's like. Uh, cold and snowy, anyone?

There are no idiot lights, no bell ringing calling me a "ding-dong" when I'm low on fuel, and no beeping whenever there's a door that's not quite closed.

Instead, there is me, trying not to be an idiot without the idiots lights, saying "Grraaar!" when I realize the needle is pointing toward the "E" and I'm late for school.

There is no windshield wiper for the back window.

Instead, there's a snow-and-ice encrusted back window that never defrosts and takes two people to roll down and back up.

That's right, we're talking about my *new ride.

*and by new I mean old. VERY old. As old as the hills. Could be called a classic. Or vintage. Yes, we'll go with vintage.

Come party with me like it's Nineteen-Eighty-SIX!!!

We're talking the year that brought us Pop Secret microwave popcorn, introduced us to Windows, and made a whole lot of *us fall in love with Tom Cruise in Top Gun .

"Come on and take a Riiiide intooo the DANGa ZONE!"

*and by "us" I mean "everyone but me" because, hello, I was SEVEN when that movie came out and it was not a kid-friendly movie therefore I was not allowed to watch that movie.... ever. Although I finally did when I was a senior in high school more than 10 years later. When I was at a friend's house. Sorry, Mom.


Back to 1986 - when *spandex, jazzercise, and aquanet were household words. When gas was $.89/gallon! When even t-shirts and sweaters came with shoulder pads.

*and when I say "spandex" I truly am talking about that clothing made of fabric so skin-tight I can't even post a retro-pic of it on my blog!

Anyway, some of you right now might be thinking, WHY? Why on earth would I do such a thing to myself willingly? And you would, of course, be echoing my own pitiful thoughts of late.

I admit it. The first time I sat in my new car I went into shock. Culture shock. I'll let you know when I come out of my daze. The adjustment period will hopefully take no more than 12 months.

I'll remember the reason we chose to up-downgrade one of these days. Something about having more room than our old one and being debt-free.

Now and then I feel a little sting when I think of the knock to my "status" the older "status symbol" brings along with it. And then I bite my cheek and think of the road trips we'll take with the kids piled up in the back and the open road in front of us and it's all good.

"Live like no other now so that later you can live like no other!" - Dave Ramsey

Friday, January 14, 2011

Calling Me Home

Just what IS my calling, anyway?, my heart wonders.

We're going to go through this again?, He answers.

Well, yes, Lord, now that you mention it, I seem to need to revisit this AGAIN, I sigh.

Sometimes it feels like my "calling" to be a homemaker really just entails being called to referee another argument, to change another diaper, to fix another meal and clean it up and do the dishes and wash the clothes and clean the bathroom and bathe a dirty little grub or pick up another toy.

How can THAT be a "calling"?

It's mindless.



You mean to ask Me how the sum of those things could possibly add up to a complete calling?

Well.... yes, I reply. IS that adding up to something great? Is the whole much bigger than the parts? Do they fit into an equation that you could show me on some exponential growth chart to prove the point of my worth in these tiny little daily tasks?

You're thinking about it from the INside of a very small box, He says. You need to think OUTside the box.

Yeah, I know I have some trouble seeing things 'outside the box' like my brothers do. I guess I should have spent more time with them and their airplanes than with my nose in another "Anne" book.


They were not called to the same thing you are called to, He explains. And how much did those "Anne" books draw your heart into a desire to THIS calling? It was Me calling you and I knew how those books would draw you, gently, constantly, even now as you think of them they are still drawing your heart to the simple joys I have waiting for you.

Now, tell Me what you are NOT called to, then.


I am....

I am NOT called to be discontent, to want more than I have, to constantly reach for things I don't need.

Good start. Now, turn that around.

Okay, then I AM called to be content, to be happy with what I have, to let go of desires to have things I DON'T need!

Keep going, Daughter.

I am NOT called to be constantly present with or available to the people online or on the phone.

I AM called to be present with AND available to the people You have given me to train, teach, and disciple in a face-to-face, heart-to-heart manner.


I am NOT called to dress my kids in gymboree from head to toe. (Yeah, but Lord, that is REALLY fun and is such a stress reliever to just sit and search the web for great deals to match all the little cuties and .....)

Trust me, kiddo, the wardrobe they'll have in heaven is beyond anything you can imagine!


I AM called to teach them to value things NOT of this world above things of this world.

I am NOT called to spend ridiculous amounts of time cleaning or cooking. I mean, I *think* I'm not called to those things, right? Sometimes it seems that if the house isn't spotless and the best vegan food isn't on the table that I've failed You!

I've seen you make great progress lately on being more efficient with your time in the kitchen, and yes, child, there are more important things to make progress on than your cooking. The hearts and minds of your precious children take priority, though you would probably be surprised at how many ways you can teach them about Me through these seemingly small things.

I am NOT called to drive an Escalade, carry a Dooney bag, have an ipad, an iphone, or an ipod, get my hair done more than once a year, have a gym membership, or even own a dishwasher, apparently.

Now you're just being facetious.

I am NOT called to be constantly running here and there and trying to escape my duties at home.

I AM called to be at home with my children.

We'll talk more about that later.

Aaaak!!! I know what You're going to say, Lord, and I don't know if I can handle it! I mean, how many times have I heard, "God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called" but WHAT does that MEAN?!?!

Slow down, there, Sweetie! One. Step. At. A. Time. I'm drawing you. You feel it. Your path is taking you in that direction and you're afraid, but how did you get here? Wouldn't you have been afraid to be *here* even a year ago if you'd known where you were headed? Just be willing to let me guide your footsteps. That's all I ask.

Okay, Father.

I will trust.

I am willing.

I am NOT called to be a career woman.

I AM called to be a homemaker.

A HOME-Maker. What does that mean to you?

I don't know, Lord! Sometimes it feels like my definition of "Home" was screwed up all along!

Well, if it was "screwed up", let's Nail It Down!

Redefine "Home."

Redefine "Home?"

Think about it, Child! When you say "home", you mean out west. Or the house you live in right now. Tell Me now, where is your Real home?


Why isn't that your first response? Why do you sound hesitant to respond so? What is "home" but the place where those you love are? Who loves you more than I?

No one, Lord.

No one.

What is your calling, my Lisa?

I AM called to be a Home-Maker.

To show my children what Home is so they will be always drawn to it, to You, so they will recognize Your voice as that of none other than "Father". To give them memories that remind them of what the definition of these words are: Family, Home, Father, and Love .

Why? So I can "show them off" in Heaven or here on this earth? No, rather so that they too can take their knowledge and model these definitions to people in their own homes and around the world.

If there was ever a calling that one could possibly be unqualified for no matter the training or education beforehand it is this: to be a Mother and a HomeMaker.

Please, Lord, don't leave me alone in this task. Give me strength to grasp Your strength. Give me wisdom, much more than I have. Qualify me for the things I am called to do in this tiny little life of mine.

As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.


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