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Old Faithful is Dead, and Now I'm Seeing Red


Last week was a week. This week should be better. But then I almost feel guilty for thinking like this. This morning I crawled onto Facebook only to learn that one of the women in my mom’s group that I’ve been part of since 2005 lost her home to a house fire last night. Makes my own problems seem pretty insignificant by comparison.


I had a lot of schoolwork to do last night. As it was, Will and I were working on my geography until nearly 11 pm last night (it was due at midnight)! This week will be a little easier in that regard. But in the midst of all that – I ended up buying a new (to me) van. My other one recently passed 235,000 miles and more and more things were beginning to not work right. I just assumed that one day the van would completely die – give up right in the middle of the highway and gasp, “No more!” But I don’t think anymore that’s how it happens. I think they just gradually lose all their working parts until the owner says, “No more!” A couple of weeks ago my window motor went out which meant I could no longer go through any type of drive-through or get my own mail when arriving home.

In a 10 day period I had 3 flat tires – all different tires. Will’s and my theory is that my tires were getting a little worn, although they didn’t need to be replaced quite yet. But now that the bridge is closed we are having to drive on several miles of gravel roads to get in and out of Swan. My neighbor, who has also had multiple flat tires since this began a few weeks ago, told me that they used “recycled” gravel on those roads, which apparently is broken up concrete. Anyway, I think I wrote in my last post about the whole tire ordeal. So, I had those brand new tires put on.

The very next day, Tuesday, I had a hair appointment. And then I was supposed to run an errand for Will. As I was backing out of my parking spot I felt a tremendous vibration and then my air quit working and the steering seized up. Well, that wasn’t good! I called Will at work and he had me open the hood and facetime him. I quickly saw that something had broken on the alternator (turned out to be the alternator mount). I think I kind of knew right then that this was the end of the road with Old Faithful. I called AAA who had a tow truck there within 10 min. I was only about 5 min. away from the auto shop I’ve used on numerous occasions.

See – those things show God’s faithfulness in a big way. That mount could have broken while I was driving on the highway. I could have been in Des Moines and would have had to have the van towed to shop I didn’t know. It wasn’t a perfect situation by any means, but, wow, it could have been a lot worse. Still, though, I couldn’t believe it – my van was toast after I had used my new $500 tires for less than one hour of driving?!

We got to the shop and after doing some checking around Gregg (who owns the shop) told me it was going to be over $600 to repair the mount. I just couldn’t see sinking that kind of money into a van that was slowly edging out of usefulness already, anyway. Will called me and said essentially the same thing.

While I was waiting for David to come pick me up after getting the kids from school, who should walk into the shop but Arien?! I thought maybe Will had sent her, but as it turned out, she had had her own car problems the day before when her water pump went out in her car. Fortunately, she works with Gregg’s wife and she and Gregg ended up loaning her one of their vehicles while Gregg repaired her pump. She left after collecting her car and Gregg says to me, “It’s amazing what a small world it really is!” Indeed.

So, David picked me up and I went home and I found myself really wondering what was going to happen now. I hate, hate, hate car buying. I suppose some of it goes back to when Paul was alive because he took forever to make a decision on purchasing vehicles. But, a lot of it is just because I feel so incompetent in this area. When I bought my van three years ago it was done in the immediate haze of grief and I really didn’t do much more than write a check. A guy from church checked out the van for me and assured me it was a good buy. I don’t know a good buy from a hole in the wall. And I hate looking. And I hate calling people. And I hate setting up appointments. And I hate forking over the cash.

I didn’t know it, but Will was already on Craig’s List. That evening he came to me with two possibilities he’d found. Here I thought I might be days and days without my van and he already had an appointment set up for Wed. night. The van was in Marshalltown, an hour north of us. So, we got there and were met by a neatly dressed Hispanic man (surprise, surprise – Marshalltown is very Hispanic). Will drove the van and the owner and I began to make conversation.

Here’s where things took an interesting turn: the guy mentioned he was a pastor. That caused my ears to perk up so I asked him where. It turns out he is the pastor of a Hispanic Baptist church in town. He gave me a business card. From there he began to share some of the struggles he and his wife are having with infertility. They desperately want a child (he had some questions for me about my adoption experience) but that very day they had received news from the dr. that she needs surgery that will most likely result in the loss of one of her ovaries. It was very disheartening news to them as they felt like their slim chances of ever having a baby were now being further reduced. So, I began to share with him the experience of secondary infertility I had gone through before Sam arrived. It was just a neat, deep conversation about the sovereignty of God and how He does answer our prayers – just not always in the way and in the time frame we expect.

The van is the exact same model as what I had before, only two years newer -a Chrysler Town and Country. Will checked it all out and suggested I definitely buy it. We decided to not even dicker about the price – gave him the full amount. Afterwards, we went to the man’s house where I got to meet his wife. She had drawn up a bill of sale. While there, we enjoyed more spiritual conversation that ended by both of us promising to pray for one another and before Will and I left, the pastor told us if we’re ever in town again and need a place to stay, they’d love to have us at their home.

As I drove home in my shiny new red (yes, red, as in my favorite color, red!) I found myself just praising God for the entire experience. The day before I was discouraged and not understanding why my van had to quit now. But within a day I had a new van. The pastor told us he had had the van listed the previous weekend but didn’t receive any legitimate inquiries. So he took the ad down. And then, Tuesday night, felt prompted to put it back up. And within a short period of time Will saw the ad and called on it. It is very apparent to me that that van was the one God had picked out for me and the only way I was going to find it was if something happened to Old Faithful first. So, in as gentle of a manner as He could, God disabled my old van so that I was forced into a position of looking for something new.

Even with my pleasure that I’m deriving from my new van I was surprised at how sentimental I felt about letting my old one go. I’ve never, ever felt that way about any of my previous vehicles when it was time to move on to something newer. Friday morning Will and I drove over to Gregg’s garage and cleaned out the van and I gave Gregg the title. He promised to take care of the demolishing of it for me. He’s saving the battery and the tires so I’ll have them for future use (and yes, the new tires will fit perfectly on this van for when I need them). But it was not without a pang that I walked away from the garage. That goldish van was the first major purchase I made after Paul’s death. It was the first vehicle I’d ever owned without him. It was such a good van, never giving me any trouble at all until the very end.



I ended up having a meeting last week with Sam’s teacher, the speech therapist, principal, reading instructor, and some other lady whose role I don’t remember. It was to discuss how to handle his reading and stuttering. It was a very profitable meeting, I felt. Everyone agrees with me that helping Sam overcome his stuttering is far more important than continuing to monitor his reading by having him read out loud. In fact, his teacher told me that she’s been having him read silently and then she will time him and just ask him what word he was at when the timer went off. She said that Sam is so honest she knows he’ll always tell her the truth about where he ends. She said, “Any other student, I might wonder about, but I know Sam!” That’s always nice to hear. She also said that his stuttering is obvious in class but it doesn’t seem to keep him from wanting to participate and the other students take it in stride, which seems to back up what Sam reports about not experiencing any teasing about it. When it comes to the state assessments they have to do several times a year, they’re just going to test Sam a little bit differently. But he is no danger of having to repeat the third grade because of his reading, which is a relief to me. So, I walked away from the meeting very, very pleased.

I’ve never been terribly concerned about his reading, anyway. This year, one of his teacher’s requirements is that each student spends 20 min. every night reading and the parents have to sign off on this in the kid’s planner they take back and forth from school every day. It is not uncommon for Sam to read beyond his 20 min. He seems to enjoy reading - which is far more important than the speed at which he does it.

Last week, prior to this meeting, I had been sharing with a friend about what’s going on with Sam and his stuttering and she brought up the word, “anxiety.” I had never thought about that word in relation to him before. And then at the meeting one of the teachers brought up that word again. Huh. I don’t know how valid this is or if this word/condition or if it is just a current fad. You hear of it now when you never used to. I’m not debating that he feels anxious to a greater degree than some of my other kids; I just don’t know if it is anything to get all worried about is all.


I had a laugh last week. I finished up my annotated bibliography which was a huge project for my Written Communication class. Not only was it huge but it was so tedious and time consuming, too. I squeaked it in about three hours before the deadline. When I turned it in I mentioned to the professor that this project had definitely taken more work than anything else I’ve ever done for her. She replied, “Credible source information takes time. PLUS, you are very contentious, so you will expect more from yourself than other students may. Hopefully, this big stage will REDUCE the work in compiling your essay. Theoretically, a lot of your paper has now been written with this annotated bib!” That cracked me up – I’m contentious? Pretty sure she meant “conscientious.” At least, I hope so! There was that one time when I missed a question on a quiz and I pointed out to her why I still thought my answer was correct – and she gave it to me. So, maybe she DID mean “contentious!”

Well, I gave in last week and took Bella to the vet for her UTI. This time I took her to the clinic in Carlisle, which is a whole lot closer than the one I’ve used before in north Des Moines. And it wasn’t any more expensive! A friend recommended it to me. They ended up having to keep her overnight so they could get a urine sample. I wasn’t charged for anything except an office call and the medicine, even though they fed her with their food while she was there. The veterinarian there is young. You can tell the building is old and that she’s living her dream, having her own practice. Spending time in there almost makes me want to get more animals (it’s not going to happen). I did see a sign in there I want, though. It read, “All you need is love…and a cat.” When I picked Bella up the next morning the tech could not get her to come out from underneath the kennel in her room. So I walked in and Bella immediately came out when she heard my voice. I picked her up and she buried her head in the crook of my arm. I think she missed me. Now, if I could just get her to eat her pills more consistently. I mix them into her food and sometimes she eats them. And sometimes she pushes them off to the side and refuses to touch them. If she doesn’t get them down then I will have to take her in for a $60 shot. So, I’d really like her to start eating those thing with more consistency.


Last weekend Sam was complaining that his upper leg hurt. He exclaimed, “I feel like Jacob after he wrestled with God!” Probably not, but I didn’t even know he knew that story, so I was still impressed!

Sunday morning, after church, Sam told me that he has begun to feel like he’s “too old” to goof around in church anymore. So, that morning he had decided to actually try to listen to what the speaker had to say and to take notes. I, of course, told him that was a good thing and a sign of maturity. Of course, that evening during church he spent his time drawing a picture of a rock concert. I guess maturity is a long marathon, not a sprint!


This week I am reading a book I ordered several months entitled When Love is Not Enough. It’s highly recommended in my RAD group. I’ve been wanting to get to it ever since it arrived, but just haven’t had the time. However, my next project for my class, due next week, is to write an argumentative thesis based on the annotated bibliography I prepared last week. I did my project on Reactive Attachment Disorder but most of my sources had to do with identifying the issue, rather than treating it. I can’t see that there would be much argument about its identification, but there could be room for disagreement in treatment. So I’m reading this book to give me material for the project. But, oh my goodness. I started reading today and I’ve been in tears every time I pick it up. The author explains so clearly what our RAD kids are thinking and why they do the terrible things they do. For the first time, I feel like my heart is breaking for the girls – not for the rotten stuff they’ve done to me, but for how their little hearts were broken in their early years. I feel like a light is suddenly coming on. Now, their actions make sense. And not only that, but the author very clearly states the plight of the parents, how we are “abused in our homes” as she puts it. Parenting adopted kids is a tough, tough job. But I am sensing that the book offers real hope before it finishes.

Well, this is all I know. It’s turning into another busy week. But I am taking comfort in the fact that this is week 5 of the current term. Once this wraps up in 3 weeks then I’ll just be taking one class until the term after that which starts in Jan. That should give me a little bit more breathing room! Of course, I’ll have birthdays and the holidays in there, so I may still feel a bit squeezed. I should be used to that feeling by now, though!


  1. I meant to write more the first time and indeed wrote a long comment, only to have it deleted :-). Ok, longer comment. I am so glad about that RAD book. I'm not coping with that behavior but I feel like I have just a glimpse of it, of understanding how a child could be injured emotionally so that she pushes away love. I'm thankful you are gaining insight and sympathy.

    The van story is awesome. I love how God works it all out! I crashed our minivan just a little bit last week. It is still driveable but it may be reaching the end of its long life. The more important issue was that no one was badly hurt in the accident so that is a huge blessing.

    Congrats on the engagement news!


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