Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blessed be the name of the Lord

[Blessed be Your Name, Tree 63]

I know we haven't updated in FOREVER. We've been super busy, lame as the excuse may be. Last weekend we went with the youth on a retreat with the senior high youth group from our church and it was AWESOME. Seriously- it gets no greater. It was fun, relaxing, and focused. Every leader that led a talk was awesome, the kids responded, and God worked. Lives are changing as a result and we were so blessed to be there.

In other news, the Lord is seriously stretching us. We are trying to get ourselves disciplined in a lot of areas, but particularly in the financial department. God seems to think that the best way to do this is to keep bringing very expensive car problems our way... oy! The Acura has been very sick since July. We got to the point where Jason's truck has been all we had, so he carted me to work and back every day.

Then his truck starting making sounds like a VERY angry squirrel was inside... which slowly increased to ALL THE TIME. Meanwhile, having spent nearly $1,000 in the midst of me being unemployed and us getting married, the Acura had to just hang out in our apartment parking lot for a bit while we tried to get our bearings straight so we could figure out why it still wasn't running right after getting the entire engine head rebuilt. Some lovely person with a shaved key decided that the Acura should be theirs for awhile, so they took it. Too bad it was barely running!

So, we got our hopes up about getting a decent sized check from the insurance company to go get a different car and start over with one that at least ran well. The Lord had different plans and gave the car back running worse, but not in such a way that we could prove it was because of the thief. So we got a new battery and will get a new ashtray out of the deal (the thief left the key in that half-on position where your car isn't on but the radio and lights and stuff work, which TRASHED the battery over two weeks, and then they stole the ashtray because there were like four $1 bills and some change in it) but were saddled with the price of the inspection to find out if the problems were because of the theft (doesn't that just seem unfair?). The good news is that it was as simple as replacing the spark plugs- they became carbonized when the exhaust valves in the engine head were bent (this all started because of a stupid broken timing belt). The bad news it was $400, and the check engine and oil lights stay on all the time, plus now and then it dies if you are going over 40 mph and then go to stop in any sort of a quick motion.

So... then Jason's truck kept getting worse and worse. So the bad news is that we have to spend $500 to fix it. The good news is that it's normally $700 but we have connections to the shop through Jason's work. The other praise is that he can still do his pool job- he's just borrowing a different truck from his boss. Too bad it's a 20 year old, full-sized BEAST of a Chevy truck!

The moral of the story is that we are so stretched, spending loads of money on generally mediocre vehicles. Last week, I really felt sorry for myself. Everyone here (the metropolis within 30 minutes of downtown Seattle) seems to be driving a nice, new car. My favorite cars are Acuras, Hondas, and Toyotas, in that order. The lady in the parking space next to us at our apartment, who doesn't work, has an '05 Camry. Someone just got an '08 Civic and parks right in front of our door every day. Every fifth car is an Acura TSX (my dream car). I want to feel sorry for myself because I'm 26 years old, we work 2.75 full-time jobs making decent wages between us, and we can barely afford to fix the crappy cars we have!

Then, God grabbed my heart this weekend. We were singing the song "Blessed be Your Name" and the reality of someone in truly dire circumstances being able to sing, "Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering, though there's pain in the offering, blessed be Your name", just broke my heart. I am not suffering. We are being stretched, but not suffering. I long to bless the Lord's name in all circumstances! He is stretching us financially because He wants us to depend on Him, live by a strict budget, and get to a place of financial freedom where He pours out financial blessings on others, particularly our close group of friends all called to lifetime missions work, because He holds our purse-strings and we give sacrificially. We aren't there yet, and abundance sure wouldn't break us of our "us" focused spending habits.

Today, by no mistake, I read the first two chapters of Job, in which everything is stripped from him, and still Job praises God's name, essentially saying that he will rejoice whether the Lord chooses to give or to take away. I pray I would identify with a faith that deep and refuse to feel sorry for myself, rather to praise God for providing a car and means of fixing it!

You give and take away,
You give and take away.
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name.

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name, Jesus.
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name.