The Story Behind the Miracle
Have you ever won the lottery? Yeah, me neither. But I think I came pretty close to knowing how that must feel this weekend.
It all began last March. My wheelchair accessible van broke down and I was stranded at home for a little over two weeks as we figured out what was wrong and the best plan to get me back on the road. It was a tricky season that we dubbed #StuckInOviedo. (Search the hashtag on Instagram to see how tan I got while walking to Publix and listening to This American Life on the back porch for two weeks straight.) My van was 12 years old, with over 150,000 miles on it. Was it worth pouring more money into?
Wheelchair accessible vans are incredibly expensive. The conversion alone can cost up to $30,000, not including the cost of the actual vehicle. It’s not uncommon to spend $50,000+ on a newish converted van that’s in decent shape. Being in a really sticky financial situation, and my family in a tough situation as well, a new vehicle was out of the question.
We ended up fixing the immediate problem with the van, replacing the engine with a newer, used engine, and my dear friend Kayla (known in some circles as KayGibs) began a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to eventually get me a new van. We raised a total of $6,420 in just a few weeks. Unbelievable.
It was incredibly humbling to see how many friends, acquaintances, and even people I’d never met were so willing to reach out and support me. To all of you who gave so generously, thank you. Your gifts made such a major impact in helping me save for some new wheels and to repair the van over the past year in order to keep me mobile.
Okay, so, fast forward to last week.
One of my momma’s dear friends, Lisa, contacted me last week to inquire about the status of the van. How much money had we saved, how much did we need, what were my plans to figure out the remainder? There was about $5000 left, most decent used vans I’d researched were anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 with around 30,000 miles, and I did not have a plan. I had no idea how I was going to save up that kind of money. Especially considering the government won’t allow me to save any more than $2000 without losing my nursing services. (More on that in a later post.)
Lisa asked me to start researching specific vans that we could go see. She said she had an idea. Hmm…
After about a week of research, Lisa sent me a link to an amazing van being sold at a dealership here in Orlando. A 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan, 8970 miles, and only $31,000. That can’t be right, I thought. Any van we’d seen that was comparable to that was at LEAST $50,000.
I went to see the van that Wednesday and fell in love. Everything that my current van wasn’t, this van was. Spacious, smooth, tall, powerful, sophisticated. It was perfect. I called Lisa right away and told her all about it.
After conversing over the next few days, Lisa, my mom, and I made plans to sit down Saturday morning to discuss her two fundraising ideas. She said she knew someone who wanted to help out in some way, but wouldn’t say any more than that. The anticipation was strong as I wondered what brilliant plan she had up her sleeve.
Saturday morning came with bright eyes and curiosity. Lisa asked if we could meet at the dealership to discuss our plan, as well as test driving the van again. On the drive out there, mom talks to me about keeping an open mind and not getting my hopes up. I felt deep within me that the van I saw Wednesday would someday sit in my garage, and so I told mom to have hope and think positively. It’s going to work out, eventually, somehow. Let’s just hear Lisa out.
We pull up and hop out, excited to see Lisa and to hear her ideas. She takes us through the front door where Javier, the kind salesman I met on Wednesday was waiting to show us to the van.
He takes us through the showroom and I see a white van in front of me, awfully similar to my dream van, with a giant red bow on the hood. As I roll a little farther, I see my dad crouched down to my right, phone positioned to capture. Wait a second…
I see a little head pop up from behind a black convertible. Amanda? Bri? Alana? How did they get here? To my right, a pile of boys come screaming out of a tent. “SURPRISE!!!”
Surprise? So many of the people I love. Does this bow mean what I think it means?
I look at mom’s face. A great big smile. It does.
“What?! Whaaaat?!” My heart was pounding like a drum. I literally could not catch my breath. This cannot be real.
“You knew about all of this?! You little stinker!!” Lisa kisses my head and smiles.
My mind racing, my little heart about to bounce out of my chest, I was in shock. And though I couldn’t initially process all that had just taken place, I felt the deepest, fullest joy in my heart.
When my circumstances try to tell me that “this is as good as it gets” or “don’t get your hopes up waiting around for things that can never happen,” Jesus steps in and orchestrates the unimaginable. He reminds me that I was created to dream big, wild dreams alongside of Him and that He’s going to take care of me. He is the King of miracles.
I’m sharing this story to say thank you to the kind, generous individual who gave to make this new, exciting season a reality. Your huge, selfless gift has changed my life logistically, but also on a much deeper level. You’ve shown me the importance of community. Every single day we have the opportunity to impact another’s life with love. Whether it’s buying them a new car or asking a stranger how their day is going and really listening to their answer. We were created to love and lift one another up.
My hope and prayer is that I could live each day with the joy and intent of loving others as selflessly as I’ve been loved.
To Lisa who put this all together and my mom who orchestrated the biggest surprise, thank you. To all of my favorite humans who showed up to make this day so memorable, thank you. I love you all a lot, a lot. Here’s to maaaany adventures with a car full of joy!!!!!