"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
I've been on sort of an emotional and spiritual rollercoaster over the past few weeks! Many of you know I've experienced serious car trouble, and some unexpected consequences and setbacks because of that. But right now, it's all good.
My present car is a silver 2001 Toyota Corolla sedan. Ironically, the car I owned just prior to this one was also a silver 2001 Toyota Corolla sedan. Yeah, sometimes that gets confusing even for me! The first 2001 Toyota Corolla was purchased used in late May of 2015. It ran and functioned great for thirteen months, then I began having many problems with it - all engine related. That car died in April of 2018. I am going to change the names of people in this piece as I don't have their permission to use their names. So I will say that "Terry" a mechanic friend of my sister's helped me in finding and purchasing my present Toyota Corolla a couple weeks after the original '01 Corolla died. His friend "Neil" has a used car business in the Brockton, Massachusetts area. Neil told Terry he had an old Toyota Corolla which was for sale. Neil said it was "nothing to look at" but was actually good mechanically. When Terry and I went to look at it, I was disappointed. Somebody had done some amateur body work to it at one point. Several areas of the body, to use an expression of the late Don Imus, "look awful"! They really do. When my wife Mary Ann was looking for a car a couple of years ago she told people, "I don't want a car that looks like Bob's!" I can't blame her for telling them that. Yet from the beginning Terry told me the engine sounded excellent- much better than the engine on the other Toyota ever did. His verdict was the car was a good car. I paid $800 for it. Neil said he would have charged anyone else $1500 for it.
The second Toyota Corolla ran well for over three years. But lately, it just hasn't sounded right. Unlike my late father and brother, I'm not mechanically inclined at all. When there are weird sounds and weird behavior, I'm no better than a "valley girl" in telling what's wrong with a car. "There's like really weird sounds and like a really weird feeling and like a really weird like vibe when you like drive the car." That's about the level I'm on! (I'm ashamed to admit that!) And that was essentially the case with my present Toyota since we began the calendar year 2022.
Three weeks ago today, my car sounded terrible! It was making all kinds of scraping noises, some banging noises, and even a woo-woo-woo sound like Curly of The Three Stooges! There is a small shop I've been going to for oil changes and minor repairs for several years. I'll call it "Mel's". I drove the car to Mel's on Saturday, March 5 and left it there. My sister Dianne picked me up there. Incidentally, Mary Ann has been in Missouri helping my daughter Amy after surgery, for a month. I had committed to be at Bread of Life Church in Westminster (over fifty miles from where I live) to oversee the security/attendance procedure for checking in and checking out children from Children's Church (more complicated than you'd ever imagine) for five Sundays in a row. Thus far, I have missed two of them, which makes me feel, again to sound like Don Imus, awful. The car was in the shop at Mel's for over five days. They determined the problem was struts and sway bars. Almost $700 and over five days later, I got the car back. During the next few days it was better. But in my heart I just knew it wasn't perfectly right. Again, to sound like the valley girl, there were like really weird sounds and like a really weird feeling and like a really weird vibe when I drove the car. I did make it to Bread of Life Church on Sunday, March 13. Now, let's fast-forward to Saturday, March 19. The car sounded and felt terrible. Terrible. It sounded like someone was scraping a piece of heavy metal across a driveway when I drove it. And it just didn't feel right, either. As we New Englanders say, "I was wicked depressed". I had a bunch of errands to do last Saturday and I'm glad my daughter Rachel came and chauffeured me all over the place. I contacted Dianne's mechanic friend Terry. On Sunday, March 20, Terry came and checked out the car. He discovered the rear brakes were terrible. They truly were not functioning at all and that's where the metal dragging sounds were coming from.
On Monday, March 21, Terry took the car to his good friend and outstanding mechanic friend "Zach's" small shop just outside Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Zach replaced the rear brakes. He checked the front brakes and found out they really were not good, although not as bad as the rear brakes. He replaced the front brake pads, and feels the front brakes will be good for quite a few months. But the big thing was the front axles. Zach and Terry cannot understand how I drove that car without being killed. They said the front driver's axle was so bad that when when they began checking it, it just totally fell apart! Zach replaced the front axles. Zach told Terry that if he did this repair job for anyone else the cost would be a minimum of $1000. He charged Terry $300 and I reimbursed Terry the $300. Terry feels the car should be very good for many months from this point.
And that leads me to why I chose Romans 8:28 for my opening Scripture verse and why I call this piece SO GLAD! A week ago, I was very mad at Mel's Auto Shop. I felt they ripped me off, and that they were so incompetent that they did not find the brake and axle problems. But let's think about that for a moment. If they had found all that stuff, they probably would have given me an estimate of over $2500. to repair it all (including the struts). I would have said NO. I would have junked the car. And, I probably would have been without a car for awhile. Instead, I paid a total of around $1000. for all of that work, and the car should be good for many months. And, the axle did not fail on Interstate 95 leaving me dead!
Amy Grant recorded a great song about forty years ago. The title is So Glad. In that song, she talks about all the plans she had made and how God intervened and messed them all up. We all get pretty perturbed when God steps in and messes up our plans. I sure do! For a couple of weeks there, I was in a rotten mood about the car and about not being able to get to Bread of Life Church - and about a lot of other things, too. Now, it's all in perspective. Incidentally, it's worth doing an online search for Amy Grant's song So Glad and listening to it. In some respects, I feel ashamed and I feel rather stupid. But beyond that, really I'm SO GLAD!