May 18, 2011

Dearest E.,

A few weeks ago at church the lesson was on tithing. And as I sat there listening I thinking about my first car, a Subaru Impreza.  The Subaru was purchased in 2003 after my brother totaled the Dodge Neon my parents gave me in high school. I was working at Sears and diligently paying my tithing. I started looking for a car the next week. I fell in love with the Jetta that was next to the Subaru on the side of the road and stopped. But my parents felt strongly that I should call on the Subaru so I did. The owner had been given the car by a friend that owed him $1800. He was asking $2500 for it. When he arrived to show the car there was obviously something wrong. He brought the battery and hooked it up. The stick shift was missing a gear knob and soon I learned it had a salvaged title. I took it for a test drive. It was a fun little car. My dad was talking to the owner and was able to bring the price down to $2200 while I drove.

Bringing a battery to your car was strange even for a roadside car. I asked about the battery being out and he confessed. It had an electrical problem and he didn't know what but you couldn't turn the lights off unless you unhooked the battery. Oh dear, major electrical issues. My dad and I still felt strongly that this was the car. With this information we were able to talk the seller down to $1800 the amount his friend owed him for the debt. Based on a gut feeling, I bought a car with "major electrical problems" and a salvaged title.

Looking nice from far away.  (2007)

Later that day I was reading my owner's manual (yes I am a dork) and I read about "emergency mode." By activating emergency mode and flipping a large switch on the steering column the car diverted all power to the headlights without needing the keys. I flipped the switch off and POOF major electrical problem solved.  Dad drilled a hole in a baseball and a homemade gearshift knob was in place.  The Subaru sailed through inspection and emissions and I knew I had been blessed.

After your dad and I got married paying tithing was a difficult subject to bring up.  He had been told some very wrong information about tithing and the LDS church and he was wary of paying 10% of our already small income to a church.  He accepted my decision and we paid tithing diligently for a couple of months and saw incredible blessings.  We found our first apartment that was in our budget.  One day out of the blue a stranger called up your dad and offered him a job.  Because she heard from a friend of a friend that he was a good worker.  Taco was born in Novemember and I did something incredibly foolish.  Instead of paying tithing I took that money to purchase extra Christmas presents, including a bunch of things for you and some to send to Bean-Dip.  We had gotten carried away and soon I was borrowing from January's tithe to pay our utilities. We didn't pay any tithing in December.

Then one snow January day Dad got in a wreck damaging the front bumper of the Subaru and we realized our insurance had lapsed.  We borrowed from February's tithing to pay for the insurance. We were getting more and more behind.  And then in February I lost my job.  Less then a week later and Dad lost his.  We went from thriving to surviving in two months. 
We could never keep hubcaps on.
 I am not saying that all those things happened because we didn't pay tithing.  But the spiral started when we cheated the Lord his share.  Interestingly enough, the package we packed for you that year never arrived in Texas, to this day we have no idea what happened to it.  The toys and clothes we purchased for Bean-Dip were thrown away without even being opened by his mother who was still very angry and wanted nothing to do with us.  

Jobless and sufficiently humbled we promised to do better.  And eventually we both found work again and started doing well.  But we still didn't pay our tithing first.  We paid the bills and food and entertainment.  At the end of the month if anything was left and I felt guilty enough about it we paid tithing, but only on my income.  We certainly weren't thriving, but we had food, shelter and safety.  About this time we started to notice the "salvaged" part of the Subaru.  The person rebuilding the Subaru hated hot cars and so they thought it was brilliant idea of putting in an a/c air compressor unit twice the size of the factory default.  And it did cool the car very well, unfortunately it place serious strain on the engine and especially the starter if you forgot and left the air on.  After a while the starter periodically went out. Since it was a manual we could always pop the clutch and get around the starter so we weren't too worried about replacing it. Thus became the car that started when it felt like it. 
Lovely matching dents.

Popping the clutch wasn't easy.  In most situtations it was a two person job, one to push the car and one to pop the clutch.  With a decent hill you could start it rolling running alongside and hop in and pop it by yourself.  We started referring to it as running on faith and prayers. Because if I cried and prayed hard enough on days when I was alone with baby Taco and it would start. That was just the beginning of car problems.  One of the worst was the day that Dad put a big dent in both doors.  He was trying to pop the clutch infront of Grandma's house and they have three large maple trees in the park-strip right by the street.  He had the passenger door open and didn't notice until it hit the big tree and got a nice dent.  Unable to pop the clutch he managed to push it into the driveway and turn it around so he was pushing downhill instead of uphill.  And smack this time the drivers door hit the tree.  At least it matched.

But as I was sitting in church (on May 8th to be exact), I realized that it was also a very real example of tithing blessings. When I first started to "cheat" at tithing the car started having problems (we got in a wreck, the insurance lapsed, the starter went out). It seemed like the money that should have gone to tithing was going to repair the car. I suddenly realized that the months I didn't pay tithing were the months of car repairs. The months that I paid tithing were months the Subaru ran great.  I think it was something I knew at the time, but refused to listen.  After all tithing is a principal of faith not finance.

The window started slipping shortly after Burrito was born.
The last couple of years have been incredibly difficult financially for our family.  I was finishing up school and not working and Dad has been mostly unemployed since Sept. 2008.  For many months the only thing paying our bills has been Taco's disability payments.  When we first started living on SSI I asked my bishop if I should pay tithing on it. Mostly because I wasn't sure the social security office would approve if I was audited. I was counseled that the Lord would understand why we haven't been paying.  As I listened in church a few weeks ago, I realized that I should be paying on Dad's unemployment.  In my heart I promised to be better and approach Dad with this story and ask if we could began paying again.  (Remember Dad had gotten a job less then a week ago and our income was about to change.)

On Monday the 9th of May I had an afternoon interview. While I was getting dressed for the interview, I sat down with Dad and told him about what I had realized about the Subaru and tithing. Together we thought back and he realized what I was saying. He listened carefully and thought about it and agreed that not only  should we pay tithing on my income, but we would tithe both incomes. He also agreed we needed to go back and pay tithing on unemployment for the first four months of the year so we would be full tithe payers at the end of the year.  I can't even begin to express how much his support means to me.  I know there will be many blessings to come from this act of faith.


Mom of 12 said...

Are you sure you don't want to put your button on Twelve Makes A Dozen? I think there are lots of people out there who could use this advice...

PRINCESS said...

you need to do another post, i want to hear more.

Alex said...

Great epiphany about your car. Paying tithing really does pour you out blessings. : ]

Mom to Many said...

:o) Amazing isn't it. :o)
Life does not work out on paper, cause paper isn't what makes it work out. We know who helps us to get through life.