Following the Spirit: Even When it Means Your Favorite Car Gets Totaled

This Thanksgiving season has been saturated with my huge prayers of gratitude to my Heavenly Father for two blessings I have wanted for a long time: 1. a son going on a mission, and 2. no more car payments! Things have been so tight financially for us for a long time that I wondered how we could pay for my son’s mission. Money has been so tight that I have seriously thought about getting some kind of full-time job to do at home. But I didn’t know how I could do that plus my mothering and homeschooling duties, which I am not about to give up. So I have done various part-time things, like teaching piano.Things got even more scary when my husband found out that 75% of his income is drying up at the beginning of the New Year.

Nevertheless, we went forward in faith as our son’s 19th birthday neared (he turned 19 three weeks before the announcement of the age change).  We encouraged him to put his papers in stating that he was available to go. He got his call to Charlotte North Carolina. After much planning and shopping (thankfully done mostly by him and my husband), we said goodbye to him two days ago as we dropped him off at the Missionary Training Center in Provo. So there’s the culmination of the first blessing, and it came on the heels of the second blessing.

On the way to the MTC, our last family picture together. Thanks to my sister Emily for being the photographer.

I have felt the second blessing was a tender mercy to help with the first blessing. It would not have happened if I had not sought out the Holy Spirit’s guidance and heeded it after a prayer I gave the second to last week of October. I am so pleased to agree with President Monson that God is in the details of our lives and anxiously awaits to bless us. I loved his last General Conference talk and his emphasis on taking time to pause and consider God’s blessings, and how he is in the details of our lives. I know he is a true prophet of God and speaks for God. I agree with my girflfriend Tara who said, “Life is not happening to you, it is happening for you.” I agree, as long as we let go of the idea of controlling our lives (control is an illusion) and let God control it by keeping in touch with Him through prayer, asking for guidance and then following it. And it’s so much better if we submit to His will without kicking and screaming the whole way!

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Ever since I read John Pontius’ books The Spirit of Fire and Angels Among Us I have attempted to invite Heavenly Father into my life more and live by His guidance as he speaks to me through the Holy Ghost. Sometimes this means not doing things I really want to do and sometimes it means speaking up and to people when I would really rather retire into shyness.

Last month, in October, I really wanted to go to a 3 day seminar. I had the money saved to pay the fee. I talked to one person who hadn’t gone and one who had and sought their opinions for how their choices had affected them. I decided I would go, if God approved. So on the Monday before the Thursday when it was scheduled to start I prayed about going. I told Heavenly Father that I had decided to go and asked him to confirm my decision, if my decision was according to His will. As it says in Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-9, I felt a stupor of thought, as God’s way of giving me a no answer.

So then I switched my decision to not going and I asked God if He wanted me to stay home. This time I felt a “burning in the bosom.” I was disappointed, to say the least, because I had really been looking forward to this seminar. I prayed one more time about it with the decision not to go and again got the confirmation that I was not to go. Not wanting to have a Joseph Smith/Martin Harris experience where God gives in to pestering and lets one have a learning experience that involves suffering and loss (the story of the lost 116 pages of the manuscript of the original Book of Mormon translation), I didn’t pester God into changing His mind.

Thursday morning came and I didn’t go to the seminar. On Wednesday, a friend called me and offered me a free ticket to a piano teacher’s conference on Friday and Saturday, including a lunch. Cool, I thought, maybe this is why I was not to go to the seminar. I have a few piano students and would like to learn more about how to be a better teacher.

Early Thursday night, around 5:35 PM, I said good bye to my 16 year old daughter and 14 year old son so she could drive him to his Eternal Warriors class. I was in the midst of dinner prep. Finally when dinner was ready I called my husband to come home for dinner. He didn’t answer his cell phone after repeated calls. We had dinner without him, and when he finally did come home he had a sad tale.

Turns out, my daughter collided with a UTA bus just two blocks from my home, at probably the worst intersection in our town. It doesn’t have a traffic light, but it should. She didn’t see the bus coming as she was turning left and hit it broadside. Thank God she was not hurt and neither was my son. The car, however, was totaled.

This was why I wasn’t to go to the seminar! The insurance has agreed to pay us enough money that we can pay off the bank loan for the car, plus have enough money left over we can buy a decent used car for cash to replace our minivan. So now we will have no more monthly car payments! Hooray! If I had gone to the seminar I would have driven this car that got totaled, and she would have driven the big green van. That van is already paid for and we wouldn’t have gotten any insurance money out of it because it was totaled already by somebody who collided with my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law was going to just send it to the scrap yard but knew that we could use it so he gave it to us two years ago. The rule is that whoever is driving the farthest for the day gets to drive our Toyota Sienna minivan. We got the car after the birth of Child #6. It gets better gas mileage than the big, full-size van, and I have loved driving it. It has been my favorite car. I love that I can haul 8 people in it and yet it still feels like a car, not a truck or van, when I drive. Plus it has all these cool features, like an mp3 CD player that can also hook up to my iPod, an automatic door, and deep storage behind the rear bench.

But ever since I read Dave Ramsey’s book I have wondered how we could get out of our car payment. I have wished we could sell the car but we couldn’t sell it for what we owed. God knew of my desire and has given me this blessing of getting out of a car payment. Right in time for my son going on a mission!

I feel so blessed to have had this experience because it strengthens my faith in God. I feel my faith strengthened like never before. I feel absolutely sure that I have access to the most powerful force in the universe, who happens to also be my Father in Heaven. I am so grateful to know that He is always there to guide me, as a compass that will never fail me. He truly does live and He speaks to us through His Spirit, which can be a burning in the bosom, or it can be a voice in my head, or even a feeling. Sometimes, if it feels like He is not answering us the way we want him to, may we remember Sister Pat Holland’s words, that a “no” answer just means that there is a bigger “yes” answer in the future.

God is always full of good surprises! Just like my son…he pulled out a can of silly string as we said our good-byes and started spraying all of us. FUN! Man is that he might have joy! I am grateful for a Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ who make all this fun possible!

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