After the wreck, Zoe asked me a ludicrous question. I say it was ludicrous because moms rarely get to make such a decision based on her criteria. Zoe asked, “Miss Amy, what kind of car do you want?” I laughed and explained to the sweet, naïve child that moms don’t have the luxury of driving the cars they want. They drive the cars that the families need them to drive. Only daddies get to drive the cars they want to drive.
Yet as I spoke those words of practicality, a flicker of a dream began to take root. Was it indeed possible for me to consider that I, too, could drive a car that I actually wanted? A car that made my stomach get butterflies? What if….?
In all of my driving years, I had only chosen one car.
As a teenaged driver, my daddy would bring home whatever land barge on wheels in the snot green color of that year in his price range. That was what my sister and I got to drive. We drove an infection colored snot green Dodge Dart, a darker booger colored green Cutlass Supreme, a white Cutlass Supreme with red velvet interior that made me sick every time I touched the seats, and a silver Buick Regal. (The Regal was my favorite! It was the closest to a normal car that we had. The “B” fell off the back; so we called it the Uick. Man, that car was fun to drive!) However, not a single one of these cars was my choice. Each was chosen by my dad and his friend named Barry who was getting him a super deal.
When John and I got married, we went to the Honda dealership where I picked out my very own car - a little black Honda Civic EX with a stick shift and a sunroof. I loved that car. It would practically fly AND get great gas mileage while doing it. We drove that car until I was pregnant with our third child. We had figured out how to get two car seats in the back of this little Honda, but it would not hold three car seats. Thus began the reality of moms and dads and cars.
Fast forward eighteen years…
I began asking myself the same question Zoe had asked me. What did I want? What kind of car did I really want to drive? My husband John had amazing skills at finding cars for killer deals. I just needed to figure out what I wanted. So the search began!
Let me pause for just a moment to reveal some TRUTH about myself. I am a car girl. When I say I am a car girl, I mean that I love driving well-made, fast cars. I think I would be a great race car driver. The joy I fell from driving a sports car that hugs curves through the mountains on a sunny day is invigorating. I cannot imagine purchasing a sports car with an automatic that doesn't at least have paddle-shifting capability. Like I said, I am a car girl.
Now that most of my children were driving, I didn't really need a gigantic tank like the Suburban, Yukon XL, and Lincoln Navigator L that I had driven for the past twelve years after getting out of a mini-van. (Did you just see that I had sacrificed and driven a mini-van for my family?! Greater love hath no mother than this to lay down her life and her car standards for her children.) So now I could actually consider any and all cars that would fit more than two people.
Day 1 of Test Driving: I decided to drive the Volvo SUV's and the Mini Countryman. John had found a few online, and we headed to the dealerships to drive them. First we went to the Volvo dealership where we met Davies (pronounced Day-vees) and got our first bottle of dealership water, complete with the Volvo label. We both liked Davies so much that I wanted very much to buy a car from him based on his personality and intelligence alone. Davies asked me what I liked in my Navigator and made a list of those qualities. Then he asked me what else I would like to have in a car and why I was switching. He listened to me. Next, he asked me for three colors of cars that I was interested in. Now I have driven a white or cream or champagne car for the past fifteen years. Not once did I want that color. Those are practical "mom" colors for hiding dirt. They are not fun colors. They are "meh" colors. Davies understood that while I wanted a safe car, I wanted a fun car as well. I gave Davies blue, silver, and red.
Davies brought me a gorgeous blue Volvo XC90 to drive with every single bell and whistle they have. Man, oh, man! It was like driving the Starship Enterprise. That thing was amazing. Not only was the ride smooth, but also the car was fast like a sports car - even though it had three rows of seats like my Navigator. To say I was salivating would be an understatement! This thing had features that seemed ridiculous, like a refrigerated console and glove compartment. The only way I thought it might enter my financial galaxy was that it was one of their hail damaged cars. According to Davies, "with the owner here today we are making crazy deals." Unfortunately for Davies, the Bacons really are certifiable and his boss is only a little bit needing some medication, because that deal wasn't even close to crazy. In fact, we had a little chuckle about it once Davies left the room.
Next we went to the Mini dealership where we were paired with a sales intern. Poor guy! My impression of him is such that I do not remember his name, and it would be best that I not share it if I did.
Upon our arrival at the dealership, John and I surveyed the Countrymen on the lot. There were every color combination imaginable with only one sad white one on the lot. One of my favorite things about the Countryman is that the owners can express their creativity in their cars with the color combinations and accessories.
We went inside and met our aforementioned sales intern. I told him excitedly about my new station in life...getting out of "mom cars." I specifically told him what I liked about the Countryman: the color combinations, the creativity, navigation, the fun of driving with a stick shift, etc. As our intern went out to get a car for me to drive, I said to John, "We are about to find out how smart this guy is." Guess which car he brought me. The sad white one! It was an automatic, and it didn't even have navigation. So there was no way on this earth that I was going to buy that car anyway. I drove it angry, and we left with our souvenir water that he had given us. Ugh!
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
James 1:5-6 (NIV)
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)
You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.
James 4:2 (NIV)
That night I realized we had been going about his all wrong. I had not asked God for direction. I had not asked God to lead us to the right car that would bring glory to His Name. Yes, a car can do that. I had not asked God to show me the car that we were supposed to purchase. So I began praying for wisdom in our car purchasing choices. I thanked Him that we had the funds to purchase a car that I could both love and use. Then I asked God to lead us to through the car decision process and the to the right car, once the type of car was made clear. Finally, I asked that this car would be used for God's glory. What a blessing to join God in His plans He already had for us!
Day 2 of Test Driving: By now I had added the Lexus SUV to my list of possibilities. John had found a beautiful Tiffany blue one at an obscure dealership called Otto Source off Harry Hines in Dallas. (If you are unfamiliar with that section of Dallas, it is near where some men who aren't gentlemen go to see things that aren't ladylike or very gentleman-like...for that matter.) We pulled up to a warehouse with just a few cars parked out front. I looked at John, wondering if we were at the right place.
We walked inside to find out if they even had the Lexus we had seen online. (Frankly, this felt like a bait and switch!) The receptionist gave us each a bottle of water, said that she would send us a sales rep as soon as he was available, and asked if we would like to tour the showroom while we waited.
We walked into the warehouse to see rows and rows, maybe 40 or more luxury cars parked neatly into their spots to make room for as many cars as possible. Each car was two to ten years old, and many of them were within my budget's possibility. Now this car girl's breath was a little taken away at first because as I surveyed the scene, this is what I saw: The first row contained a black Maserati Gran Turismo Convertible, a black Porsche Cayenne, followed by a white Porsche Cayenne, then BMW X5, BMW X5, some BMW X6's, then some Mercedes sedans and SUV's, some Cadillacs (both SUV's and sedans), and more. My mind was blown. I literally could not take it all in.
I looked at John and asked, "Are these stolen? Are we in a chop shop?"
He assured me this was legitimate and followed a business plan he had looked at himself for selling pre-owned cars - make a little money on them and move them quickly, instead of marking them up a ridiculous amount and playing the back and forth game. Since they were kept inside they looked pristine.
These cars tugged at something deep down inside me, helping me let go of that practicality feeling. I wanted a fun car too. At that moment, I wanted to love my new car - not just get what would work for our family. I had begun feeling that way at the Mini dealership, thus my ruffled feathers over the white, boring car he chose for me. Now I really, really wanted a fun car that I could love and that would hold a few kids plus any supplies I might need to haul. My eyes and heart took in the selection of cars in the showroom, becoming overstimulated, and returned to the first cars I saw upon entering.
For the first time in my life, I considered driving a Porsche Cayenne as an actual possibility. Oooooh....it was/is a sexy car! Wow-ee kazowee! My heart was racing just looking inside. For real. As I mulled that ridiculous possibility, I saw the interior on the seats...suede right down the middle of the seat. Are you kidding me?! Good-bye eating Chick-fil-A biscuits that always fall apart and land in my crotch while I'm driving, which is bad enough that I'm worried about cleaning myself up, but now I would be worried about cleaning up the car's crotch too! So I just couldn't even take it for a spin, much to John's dismay. (Now I am kicking myself!)
Side note: I realized that if I drove up to speak about Jesus at a ladies event in a Porsche, some women would be judging me. Honestly I really couldn't get a Mercedes or a BMW either without upsetting some people, even though they would have cost less than the Suburbans and Yukons that they had driven to the event. Most people don't know what pre-owned cars cost. John and I don't believe in paying retail if we can get around it. So we never pay full price for anything. However, for some reason we think we have a right in the church to make judgments about each other.
What can't we just choose to be happy for each other when God blesses our brothers and sisters?! Instead we act like Judas when he judged Mary as she anointed Jesus with that expensive perfume. The last person in the Bible I want to be associated with is Judas. I'm just sayin'... So if you get a nice car or a nice house, yea for you and yea God!
Back to Otto Source: Then our sales rep Bruce arrived with the blue Lexus SUV for me to drive. He took a copy of my license, and had me sign a piece of paper saying I wouldn't steal it. Then he let John and me drive away with it...alone. Oh, the freedom of driving that thing without a sales guy breathing down my neck! The car itself was beautiful. It really was. I had always thought I would like to have a Lexus someday, and I was excited to possibly get one of my very own. Yet when I got behind the wheel and began driving this particular one, it didn't make my heart race as I had expected. It was kinda like kissing your brother. Sweet...but not nearly the same butterflies-in-your-stomach reaction as kissing your heart's desire!
To say I was disappointed is quite possibly the understatement of the year. I just wanted this whole process to be over and to go home with a car as soon as possible. (As much as I love cars, I hate shopping for them. I hate the whole negotiating process - John's favorite part. Honestly, if you every need anything negotiated, he's your guy. He really is good at it, and he loves the whole process.)
We returned to see an Acura ZDX being pulled into the warehouse...er...showroom. John began salivating first. Then I had to take a look at it. To our dismay, it was sold. Now I wanted to try the Acura, remembering that my sister's Acura is really nice. I was also still looking for a Volvo XC60 to drive that had all of the features I wanted. As my eyes attempted to take in all of the cars in that warehouse, I felt like I would be too much work for them to pull out car after car for me to try out. My heart really did want to try that Mercedes SUV and the Range Rover Envoque that were nestled behind twenty or so cars in the back corner. Instead of asking for what I wanted, we thanked Bruce for being wonderful and giving us space. Please go buy a car from him. I liked him so much!
Next we went to see another dealer who gave us another bottle of water and let me drive some more cars. His name was Tucker. We liked Tucker too. He was from Liberia (kinda), but he grew up in Garland, TX near us and went to Naaman Forest High School. Tucker's business cards had "Mr Approval" under his name on them. Once John saw that, he was up and peeking at the other desks to see if they had nicknames on their business cards too the minute Tucker walked away to get the Acura MDX I would be test driving.
I loved the MDX, but it had over 88,000 miles on it. In my mind, we would be preparing it for the nursing home and making sure it had a DNR in place - should the need arise, because we wouldn't want it to suffer. No way, no how was I starting out this journey with that many miles. I live in my car. We are the miles! I didn't want to drive someone else's memories.
While we were driving though, Tucker showed me a Mercedes SUV and a Range Rover Envoque. That Mercedes was gorgeous on the inside - except it had no navigation, to my surprise. I really wanted the navigation, but John discovered we could add it. Then I drove it and found the gigantic blind spot on the driver's side. What a disappointment to discover I was not a Mercedes girl!
Then I realized, yea, I have eliminated another car! It's not me; it's the car!
The Envoque was a fabulous driving car and sleek all throughout the interior. John's heartbeat was drowning out the radio. Buuuuut the size of the rear passenger and back windows really bothered me. They were so small that I didn't feel like it was all that safe to drive. John kept rolling his eyes at me like I was making a bigger deal out of their size than was necessary until I asked him to sit in the driver's seat. Then he saw for himself how truly small they all were. If those windows had been a bit bigger, Mr. Approval would have sold us an Envoque.
So we ended yet another day frustrated but hopeful. With God's help I had narrowed my search down to the Volvo XC60 and the Acura MDX...unless something else caught my eye.
I continued to pray for God's guidance in the process.
Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Mark 11:23-24 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
I slept so much better that night, dreaming about my new car. However, the exact make and model were fuzzy. In my dream, I just knew with certainty that we had made the right choice. What peace!
Day 3 of Test Driving...The BIG Day: We were focused on our agenda - drive the Volvo XC60 and the Acura MDX back to back to hopefully make a final decision. John found a Volvo at a dealership for me to drive where we met Sean, who gave us a bottle of Costco water. I liked Sean because he wasn't pretentious, despite his slicked back ponytail. After the test drive, Sean offered to let me take home the car for a couple days. I think even he could tell that I wasn't in love with the car. In my heart, the decision was becoming clear. Volvo was probably not going to win the rose from my heart. The va-va-voom just wasn't there.
Then we went to two Acura dealerships that had cars that didn't have navigation. The reps were nice enough, in fact, I was pleasantly surprised at how kind and respectful each and every sales rep was in comparison to the last time we purchased a car. I legitimately wanted to buy a car from all of them - except the one who chose to bring me exactly what I did not want (remember the white Countryman?) on Day 1 of our adventure.
Feeling dejected and exhausted, I thought is there a car out there for me? Yet, my husband did not give up! He went right back to his car buying apps and kept searching until he found a car in Arlington, TX. We drove another thirty minutes to this dealership where we met Joel.
God bless Joel! He literally fell rear-backwards into this sale. We told Joel what car we had come to see. While Joel had gone to bring the car around, John and I entertained ourselves with the following conversation:
John: Joel, this may be the easiest sale you have ever made in your life.
Amy: If you don't call me fat, we are probably going to buy this car.
John: If you don't drop an "f" bomb while showing us this car, you are making a sale tonight.
At this point, I'm laughing hysterically.
John: If you accidentally drop an "f" bomb, but you use it in context, we might still buy this car. We just want this to be over!
At this point, Joel brought the car around with no gas in it. We looked it over. I didn't even drive it before I looked at John and gave him the sign to Get. It. Done.
We came inside to do that part that I hate with all of my being. While Joel went through the numbers and added on ridiculous fees for ridiculous things like nitrogen in my tires for $800, I looked at my phone and ignored them. John negotiated a great deal with the manager through Joel. Once the finance negotiation began, I went to the car to get my book to read. An hour later, we left with my 2014 Acura MDX at 9:30 PM.
Guess how I felt on my drive home? My stomach was all aflutter with butterflies as I got to know my new car. We have named her Gracie because she hugs the curves with pure grace and speed.
Praise God for His faithfulness on this crazy journey!
Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)