Thursday, August 20, 2009

Operation Buy Wheels-The Plot Thickens

AAAAKKK! Someone pulled the grenade pin and lobbed it! I'm doing this car buying thing slowly and methodically, dare I say wisely, and they have the audacity to announce the deadline is only FOUR days away. Kaboom. No more $4,500 dollar scrap metal.

I can't even put Step 5 into action by Monday. Wait you say, I'm counting and what happened to Step 4? Ok for the few of you who read my last post on car buying and noticed, THANK YOU. I'd send you a free book but I'm not currently in with any publishers. I do have a delectable can of black beans in the cupboard. Interested?

Ok fine.

Step 4 isn't that much fun anyway. After test drive Saturday, Sunday came-church. Well, church was totally fun, but I mistakenly mentioned my escapades to a Pastor's wife. The Pastor's wife who I sat by during Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsay. Yes, her husband led the class. Oh the things that pass my lips. With both index fingers pointing and thumbs cocked like handguns, she jumped into protect your sister from a HUGE mistake mode. (She is as sweet as can be and I love her, but. . . I want a car). It gets worse.

Pastor was teaching on 1 Chorinthians and smack in the middle of his sermon he launches this rocket. "A lot of people are excited about buying a new car in the government program. I don't care if you're getting $4,500. If you can't afford the payments, don't do it. I didn't say that in first service, there must be someone here who needs to hear that." UGH! Service ended and I tried to make my tactical retreat when I was intercepted by the aforementioned Pastor of Finance. (I just gave him a new title) "I hear you need to listen to a lesson from FPU again. I'll get you the DVD's."

Throw up the white flag. I gave up and meekly followed to the office for the dreaded DVD's of reason. You'd be proud of me I listened-twice and an extra lesson to boot. I even pulled out the car cd's and listened to the savings lesson. It's coming back to me now.

The economy.
The budget.
The need.
The desire.
Strike the desire.
I decided to take a break and pray more, listen harder. My verse this month has been Prov 1:33
He who listens to me shall dwell securely.
He shall live at ease from the dread of evil.
I guess Step 5 will have to wait until tomorrow. I'm hyperventilating tonight.

Operation Buy Wheels

I'm trying to make a decision. The bigger the decision, the more I research. The more potential impact, the more I seek advice. The bigger the consequence of making the wrong decision the harder I pray.

Research, seek advice and pray - sounds like a wise combination.
And everyone said, "Amen".

Should I get a new car through the government trade in program? We need a car. Seriously, we do. Our '78 Caprice Classic doesn't qualify and I want to keep our good car, a previously wrecked '96 Buick Regal. It ain't pretty, but the engine has a lot of life left. I dismissed that option. I thought about our business van. It isn't worth more than the price of scrap metal. It has been in an accident so the front end is messed up and it will not shift out of first. Even so, I let the idea slide.

The economy.
The budget.

Then temptation, or divine intervention or the devil stepped in at work. I still haven't decided which. I spent a week listening to several people telling me to trade the business van. Absolutely 100% do it and do it now. They totally ganged up on me. They were car shopping and advising and thoroughly messing with my head, filling it with a whole other set of options. So I dove into the project again.

Some decisions stress me. Especially when it involves large sums of money and long-term implications. Call me a pansy. I prefer prudent. Time to apply decision making strategy.

Step 1 Wait before I get to step 1, for the record, prayer goes with every step. Don’t forget prayer.

Back to Step 1. Research. It is wise to have the right information to make the right decision. Problem is that information overload can work against me and give so many ok options that the best option gets lost in the shuffle. I drive myself nuts with whishy-washy indecision but, I avoid rash decisions.

Impulsiveness can do a person in faster than scat. Impulsive I'm not. Well, most of the time anyway. Debating the pros and cons and calculating the potential impact of the decision is important. Don’t I sound so wise? Except I can debate myself in circles, take the side of either pro or con and routinely flip sides-on a daily basis. I have turned my brain to mush trying to wade through the muck of options.

The economy.
The budget.
The need.

So I wade through Consumer Reports dissecting the information like a seasoned covert agent. Isn’t car shopping a little like sleeping with the enemy? I’m entering guerilla warfare. I consider this boot camp. Eliminate high maintenance cars get a short list of trusty reliable models. I'm loyal. When I pick something, I want to have it for a long time. I'm talking this car should see me into my card carrying senior discount years. Note Item #2 in my last post. Oh my, I'm doing the math, that's so true and completely depressing! I'm getting up there in years.

Step 2 My financial adviser. He has patiently answered my myriad of questions and helped with excellent information about car expense. However, he's being a good “adviser” (key word) not making the decision for me. I walked in there expecting him to say, Are you crazy? Instead he said there are times when a need is real and this might be the time to buy. I hoped someone would tell me NO and save me the agony of the decision process. Drat.

So step 2 continued. I took a hard look at my budget, studied some areas I could adjust and came up with an amount I felt I could spend on a car. Yeesh, I hope I’m right. I wanted to be fully prepared when I put operation Buy Wheels in action. I could see it the lean, mean negotiating machine. Salesman? Finance manager? Bring it on boys. I know my numbers. I’m ready for the challenge!

Step 3 Test drive the short list. This brought on more than a little anxiety. I’m not mean. I’m totally NOT lean. Negotiating machine? I’m wilting. My last trip to a dealership was a horrible experience and I haven't set foot in a show room since. Sure it was 20 some years ago, but trauma remains.

I knew the lure of the shiny-smells new-feels good test drive was dangerous, but I drove on the lots with steeled resolve. Almost. Oh, they are soooo nice. Not much for acceleration, but flies quietly at 65. It even has a cup holder. That’s an issue in our current car. Can you believe not one cup holder??? Hey, the windows don’t constantly grind and rattle either. By now I'm not sure I want someone to tell me no. I’m in agony. I have seen the enemy and the enemy is me. And that finance manager poised for my takedown? Not in the negotiating mood. What’s up with that?

The economy.
The budget.
The need.
The desire.

Brake lights. Screeching tires on pavement. STOP. Drive awaaayyyy from the lot. Resist temptation. Time for a tactical retreat but the battle is far from over.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quick Takes - Take 7

1. Occasionally I hope and wish and actually dare to believe a really cool is blessing is just around the corner. Like when I was one of the final callers to win a cruise. But didn't. Like when I'm hoping God will help me find and get a new car. So far, nada. Like when an insurance claim may, just may pay for much needed siding for my house. Should I get my hopes up? Even without the free cruise, even if I keep my clunker, whether I get the siding or not, I'm still blessed.

2. I had a first this week and it wasn't a good one. I was paying for wedding shower supplies at an innocent enough looking store and the clerk timidly asked if I had the 55 senior discount. WHAT!?! This place is a wolf in sheep's clothing. How bad do I look today? Where's my wrinkle cream? Are the bags under my eyes the size of freight containers? How utterly deflating. Maybe that is my problem. I'm deflated. . .
3. A picture is worth a thousand words and a friend's simple gesture is priceless.

Thanks friend!

4. My mom went in for a routine stint replacement. Unfortunately nothing is ever routine for mom. I feel so bad for her. A procedure some get on out-patient basis is stretching into the following week. First she had to go early for extra treatment to prepare for surgery. Then although the stint went fine, the artery they used in her arm would not clot and close. She spent a very painful night then was blessed with another surgery to stitch the artery the next day. Now five days later, her arm is still so sore from the bleeding and bruising, everyday tasks are next to impossible. She's a trooper though. Were are treating her to a movie night tonight.
5. Speaking of a wolf in sheep's clothing. I spent a lot of time last week car shopping. Wow is that stressful! Decisions are sometimes agony, sometimes easy. With me money decisions and big ones to boot are always agony. I've been getting some great advice and slowed down, way down. When my newest car is 13 years old, I have to admit, I really would like a new one. Check back soon to see me decision escapades and if I'm totally nuts. I almost declared myself so.

6. I keep catching my daughter in the act. I've been able to do it plenty lately and every time I have to smile. More and more frequently, I find her in her room studying her bible. AAhhhh! There is a growing number of sticky notes above her bed of bible verses she wants to remember and there are two on our computer monitor. I love it!
7. School has already started in our house. Volleyball conditioning at 6:30 a.m. is a tough adjustment. What a rude awakening! That switched to afternoons next week, but play practice takes over three mornings, at 6:30. Yowsers. I hope we get to bed better than we did last night.
Read more snippets of life in action at Conversation Diary. Have a great weekend! Do something wonderful for a friend.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Every little girl dreams of being Cinderella. We've dreamed of entering the royal ball and felt the excitement of everyone turning to watch us glide down the grand stairway. Ah, the center of attention. Feels special doesn't it? For some yes, it's what they live for. But others cower at the very thought. Center of anything? They would rather be the fly on the wall.

As a child, recess brought anxious hope that I would not be last when sides were chosen for kick ball. Wait. High School ushered in wallflower years and disenchantment as I was passed over for honors. Withdraw. College brought the feeling of being way in over my head to the point that I switched my major. Fear. Adulthood gnaws that I'm squandering opportunity. I'd love to be God's go to girl, but He doesn't always choose me for assignments. Restlessness.

It isn't pleasant to feel overlooked. It's a frightening feeling to feel live is passing us over. The past emerges and points fingers of frustration, defeat and inadequacy. Lies. All of them. But I too often buy what they are selling. Until I read the resume of the applicant God chose for a whopper of an assignment.

Wanted: Leader for a stubborn, unruly nation. Someone to fill the massive shoes of Moses. Must exert decisive action while conquering a land of giants and fortified cities. Ability to sieze opportunity and unify the people under one purpose is required.

Applicant: Joshua
Only he never formally applied.

Born a slave. Bad start. Member of the wrong class. Before the exodus, he received army training in Egypt. He was working for the wrong side. Younger than most, without evidence of a strong father figure, Moses selected him as a helper. Living in the shadow of this leader could have made him envious. Skill acquired: Learned to receive instruction and obey wholeheartedly. Benefit: Got an inside view of the workings of leadership both the good and the bad.

Received his first big break when selected to the scout team for the final home of the nation. Because of his youth and discenting opinion, Joshua was not taken seriously when he advised moving forward immediately. Sadly overlooked, he could have felt disrespected. Through no fault of his own, he was forced to endure 40 dreadful years in the desert. Result: Aimless and wasted years they weren't. Benefit: When many of the people were laid low in the wilderness, the conditions toughened Joshua and strengthed his resolve.

The seeming pinnacle of his career came when he accompianed Moses to the mountain. For nearly a year Joshua camped close to The Most High, but Moses got to continue all the way to the peak and right into God's presence. Joshua didn't get the full privileges of Moses' personal contact and converstion with God. Joshua could only sit and wait. He might have felt shortchanged. However, he steadfastly waited for his leader to return. Outcome: First witness of the glory of God shining through Moses. Benefit: Undoubtedly building a belief that can not be shaken.

Continuing experience and qualification. Not much remarkable to say. Certainly he doesn't fit the typical mold of the fast track to stardom and power.

Interesting applicant. In all those 40 years Joshua only followed and assisted. He never gave orders and never was given control. Joshua only responded. He was overlooked by everyone. Except God.

Eventually, at just the right time, Joshua was commissioned publicly by Moses as the next leader. I don't get the impression that he was expecting to take over the nation. If so why would both Moses and God continually encourage him to be strong and courageous? Will those moments from his past point their finger of insecurity? Decades of having people overlook him could have eroded confidence in himself.

We have all been overlooked. I know it is too easy to fall into the temptation of believing the lies produced by feeling undervalued. I'm so encouraged by Joshua. God did not overlook and Joshua responded.
  • God trained him for battle. Joshua learned skills as an army slave to later conquer a land.
  • God gave him a teacher, Moses. Joshua gained a father figure and learned the right and wrong way to be a leader.
  • God gave him vision. Joshua saw what could be when he scouted the enemy territory.
  • God gave him examples. Joshua watched the people and learned the cost of disobedience and faithlessness.
  • God gave him steadfastness. Through trials in the desert, Joshua learned to buck the trend and trust what God says.
Hurts growing up can be assets today. I still feel overlooked sometimes, if I'm looking around and not up. I understand the learning process better. Maybe no one else notices, but God does! I'm not expecting to become the leader of anything. I want God to know He can rely on me to be His go to girl.

Cinderella relished every moment of the ball, but planned to sneak back to her everyday life. She had no idea what was ahead for her. I don't live in a fairytale. But I also have no idea what lies ahead. I only know I'm never overlooked by God. That is enough for me.