Many of you have asked us to keep it very real on our blog. Naturally it’s nice to always put your best foot forward, but when it comes to family life, both feet always seem clumsy. And so it is with a sense of reluctance that I welcome you into the car saga.

For months leading up to our departure from Colorado, we were searching online for a Ford Excursion that had the right requirements for our family, trailer capacity, etc.  Because they no longer manufacture them and because they have a reputation for a faulty factory engine, we were in need of one that was in good repair that had the right engine work already done –  to make it what they call “bulletproof.” Some of you are aware that the day after Christmas, the perfect dream vehicle appeared in our backyard, only 50 minutes away from us.  With exuberance and presumption, I danced around the house and blogged about how excited I was that the Lord had provided the perfect car for us and how my doubts were proven useless.

I spoke too soon. . .

The long and the short of it is that that car got sold out from under us.  We were left with a few weeks to find and purchase a car before our deadline departure came.  Peter and I worked frantically to find another option within reach, to sell our old car, to plan and prepare with the hope that an Excursion would present itself.  With only a week to go, Peter and Patch took a trip to Montana to pick up a vehicle that seemed to fit the bill perfectly (almost as nice as the first one).  The engine work checked out, the interior seemed right, the man who sold it to us seemed trustworthy and honest.  Interestingly, my brother and sister-in-law were moving the same time to the exact area that Peter went to get the car, so it seemed to be providence that Peter would be able to help them unload their truck and see their new world.  Little did we know, that after 16 hours straight of driving, the guy who sold the Excursion to us proved to be anything but honest.  He had concealed the full truth about the car and we ended up with a vehicle that was far from what we wanted and paid for AND- the day after purchasing it, it wouldn’t even start.

Peter ended up stuck there in Missoula, bleeding money into the car to get it running for a whole week. I, meanwhile, was back in Colorado packing up our life, making trips to storage with a new born in tow, fearing I might get crushed by boxes in a storage unit without anyone knowing. O.K. that’s a bit of excess drama, but  you can imagine the challenge.  Gemma was my saving grace and together we pushed through a most difficult task.  She found the song “Trust in You,”  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_aVFVveJNs) which I had never heard before.  To this day it evokes tears of the deepest kind. I could not understand why the Lord would allow us to face such a mountain in the midst of seeking to serve him.  I could not see why this was necessary, why we were allowed to choose a vehicle that would drain the little finances we had set aside, why I was asked to bare the burden of packing up all alone, why we were faced with the fear of not being able to go on our trip to the Dominican Republic after months of anticipation, why our path to departure on our Missionary Tour was paved with so many trials.

As it turned out Peter arrived with an hour and a half to spare on the count down clock.  We had to get on our way in order to make it to meet our new Heroic Families team mates and to get to Oklahoma to drop our kids off in order to turn around and get to Dallas to fly out to the Dominican Republic.  If any of those pieces fell through, the trip would have had to been forgone. When Peter arrived at our little home in Paonia in the nick of time, I was hit with a heavy realization.  The car we ended up with was tattered, torn, dirty.  The exterior it was pretty nice, but inside it had been worn to the bone.  This car- which in large part will be my home for the next few years – was a disaster and we had put in everything we could and had very little hope of being able to make it better.  Despite my best efforts to conceal my disappointment, Peter, recognized my frustration.  He had been so strong all week.  Bearing the burden of trying to get the vehicle up and running, trying to live with the decision we made, trying to clean and fix what he could, trying to make the best of it.  When he saw my tears, he too, lost it.  The stress of the week overflowed and standing between the car and our u-haul trailer, we broke down. This was one of the most infamous and poignant moments of our marriage.  Our faith and trust had been pushed to our limits.  Our love was being tested as we battled with blaming each other, throwing each other under the bus for this factor or that.  Peter cried out, “I trusted you Lord!!!  I trusted!!!”  With tears streaming down our faces, freezing in the cold, frustrated and afraid, we had to surrender our wills.  While we were exhausted in trusting, there was no other pathway forward that made any sense. We had to keep trusting and cast out the enemy who had been seeking to sabotage us.

With the car loaded finally and the dirt and tears dried on our cheeks, we climbed in the “piece of junk” car and tried to pull out.  The enemy decided he wasn’t going to go that easily and so he sunk his teeth in one last time. As Peter shifted into gear and began to press the gas peddle we realized we were stuck.  The trailer and car wouldn’t move. Totally, completely stuck.  With the tires spinning out, burning rubber and the low 4×4 and brand new tires doing nothing, I jumped out of the car in disbelief.  The feeling of not having anything left in the tank numbed my emotional output.  I trudged through the snow in search of a shovel.  After some pathetic attempts that did nothing, I decided to try and push!  You can imagine how ridiculous this was! In my absolute desperation – I let out a whimpered cry for help. A few minutes later the neighbor saw our plight and helped drag us out of driveway. We were late, tired, frustrated and worn, but we were on our way.  Our adventure had just begun and we were already completely maxed out.

You know people often say that in order for great things to happen you have to get outside your comfort zone.  Well, little did we know back in June when we decided to begin this venture, that so many uncomfortable zone’s were out there for us to explore.  This car saga is just one among many trials that are testing our patience and our belief in the Lord’s call in our lives.  This particular trial continues as we seek out mechanics, missing parts, car upholstery guys and embrace what can’t be changed.  All I can say is that the lesson learned in this, is that the Lord will provide and that he wants us to be stretched to our limits to help grow them.  It goes to show that all things that are good, are truly accomplished through his power and grace. We can’t will our way to success, heaven, or any other goal alone. Will power is a part of it- we can’t give up, but we need help from others, we need to embrace the difficult and ultimately we have to give in to his will and trust in all things.

If your family is experiencing trial, know that you are not alone.  You are in our prayers.  Our struggles are bring offered daily for you.   I hope this story makes you laugh if nothing else. After all, family life is hard enough without taking it on the road!!! When your are feeling overwhelmed think of us and just remember, that while it sounds glamorous, it is really the suffering of the road that will fuel the change of hearts we seek to bring.  So join us in prayer and offering every saga in your life up.  This lent is a good time to reflect on how our trials can become our triumph if we entrust them to the King.

Chantal is a homeschooling mother of five, a national speaker and author of The School of the Family: A Renaissance of Catholic Formation. She also has her own business as a Wellness Advocate for doTERRA essential oils through which she desires to help families to take control of their health through natural remedies. Invite her to speak at your event or reach out to her to learn more about her holistic family coaching and how you can work with her. http://heroicfamilies.com/chantal

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