Monday, July 05, 2004

Tale of a One-Car Family

We've been a one-car family for almost two years, something that family and especially friends find eccentric and even strange. Sacrilegious to the Southern California lifestyle.

It originally wasn't by choice. Ron was laid off in October 2002, so we cut down to one car, for the obvious expense-saving reasons. We found ways to cope and cutback. We dumped the expensive SUV, and kept the 1993 paid-for Aerostar van. Seven long months later, Ron found a good job 25 miles from home. Finances were shaky as an 8.0 earthquake, and buying a second car was not an option.

He was forced to brainstorm options to driving his daily commute. He discovered that he could catch a bus close to home, and it would take him within a half-block of work, all without changing buses. And since he takes classes at the local university, it would be FREE. CSUF subsidizes bus passes as a way to mitigate its parking problems.

Ron's commute to work has been expense-free for over a year now. At first, he was regarded as an oddity by his co-workers. Now, with sky-high gas prices and summertime traffic jams, his co-workers ask questions...Where do you get on the bus? How long does it take? How much does it cost? Where do you get the schedules?

The van died last week. It goes to parts-heaven this Thursday, which leaves us carless.

Family finances are no longer earthquake-grade shaky, but we've not recovered enough to have much reserves. We have enough for one solid used car at today's prices, sans monthly payments. It's probably time to return to two cars, though....Ron is changing careers soon, and a smooth bus ride might not be possible. And Andrea's 13-year-old schedule gets more complex by the week.

God has His ways.

While Ron and I were puttering in the garage yesterday, a retired neighbor ambled across the street. I decided to sell a car....thought you might be interested. Just decided that it's time to get something new. Ron and I were slow to Uhhh...OK.

For you folks, I would be fine with $1,500. We stared. (Not intelligently, I might add.)

It's a 10 year old silver-blue Buick sedan...leather seats, new brakes, new air-conditioning system, Sony CD player and sound system. A well-maintained, high-mileage car. Runs beautifully. We bought it today. Pink slip sits here on my desk. It's ours. And we have enough funds left to look for a second car.

God does, indeed, provide for all our needs. Our worries were baseless and faithless. We've learned so much these past couple years....the difference between want and need, for one. Lessons about trusting God, about working together as a family, about the love of family and friends, about living on a proverbial shoestring, about the power of prayer, about being caring to neighbors we hardly know.

It all comes back to Romans 8:28, "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."

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