So much has happened in the past 16 months since J came home, and since I last blogged - lots of good things and lots of really hard things. But God continues to show up in unexpected, amazing ways and reminds us that we're on the right path.
We have an 8 passenger minivan. I love that van and it serves us well. But now with 5 growing kids and a wheelchair, walker, groceries, pool gear, extra friends etc....well, we're exploding out of it.
The biggest problem is that J cannot get in and out of it by himself. When he first came home at 39 pounds, this wasn't a huge deal. But now at 64 pounds (!!!), it ain't so easy. Lifting the wheelchair in and out multiple times a day is no fun either. Lifting J is especially difficult because he can't bend his limbs around us or jump to help us like most kids can . He is unbending dead weight. We're also learning that with fractures and serial castings and surgeries, there are going to be times when he has casts on one or more of his limbs, which makes him heavier and more cumbersome.
It slowly crept up on us that we're gonna need a bigger van. One that has space for a wheelchair lift and a big family. But after doing lots of research, we realized how rare that is and how expensive they are. Most handicap accessible vans are minivans with the seats removed for the lift, which then doesn't come close to fitting all of us. Even most larger vans don't have enough space for all of us once a lift is added. So we let the idea go and accepted that we just had to continue managing with the minivan.
Some time later, we received a call from a friend who said that God had some money for us and it is to be used towards a van.
We were stunned.
It was enough money that we could start looking again and think about getting a loan to cover the remainder. Wow, right!!!???
Shortly after, we received a check in the mail from another source for another lump sum, specifically to be used towards a van.
And not long after that, a third source informed us that they'd like to pay the remainder.
So we began to look in earnest. We had also learned that J is going to need major hip surgery this coming year, and a bigger van would be needed sooner rather than later.
We had a list of things we NEEDED in a van to meet our specific needs. Those needs narrowed it down to one very specific make and model of van. We also had some things that would be nice to have but not necessary.
We hit a few dead ends...these specific vans are so rare that most of what we were finding were across the country and we were trying to figure out how to get them home. It felt stressful and complicated, and a friend reminded us that if it feels uncomfortable, then it's not from God. I also strongly felt like we were supposed to take a little break from looking, wait and then the right van would show up at the right time. I also felt the right van would be close to home.
So we stopped and waited again.
Out of the blue a few weeks later, we get a call about a van that had just been traded in and wasn't even in the system yet, but appeared to possibly be what we were looking for.
And it was. Y'all, it was everything.
-Ford Transit (because it has individual seats that we can take in/out rather than bench seats)
-long wheel base (to allow us to take out enough seats to add a lift and have flexibility in seating arrangements for when he has to have his legs propped in extension).
-midroof (taller than a normal van to allow headspace for a lift and headspace for us to move him around inside the van when he can't bear weight himself)
-running boards...we discovered with running boards he can kind of step into the van himself (when he's allowed and able to bear weight) with us just supporting his upper body rather than fully lifting him
It also had lots of "wants" that also help out tremendously:
-darker interior (because kids and dirt!)
-a color we like
-tow package to tow our little pop-up camper and Grandpa's boat (this is SUCH a gift to be able to tow these things!!!)
-even after a lift is added, we'll still have space for stuff and friends
-used but not too many miles and in great shape
So it was pretty much everything.
And guess where it was? Across the country? Across the state? Nope. At a local dealership 30 minutes from our house.
AND it's in the same dealer group that Jeremy works for, so he got an employee discount.
AND the price was right...it was a good deal and very doable with the funds we were gifted.
So y'all, we drove 30 minutes, only spent 45 minutes there on paperwork and paid CASH for this beauty that now sits in our driveway.
And He's also laughing along with us as I try to park and back up this beast. It's big and somewhat cumbersome to back up... In fact the sticker inside the door says "bus". LOL. But it drives surprisingly nice and fits our needs so perfectly. We would have never guessed we'd end up with a vehicle like this, but we're also learning to embrace and love the crazy in our lives!
We are so so grateful.
And to our three random donors, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your life-changing generosity.
God. Is. Good.