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James R. Stout

Doors and Windows

            We bought a 1978 Honda Accord in January of 1987 to go along with our old 1975 Toyota Corolla. Yes, it already had 109,000 miles on it, but it appeared to be in good running condition. One weekend in 1988 my wife decided to take the kids up to visit her parents in the country. She would take the “good” car, the Honda Accord, and I would stay home with the old Toyota. I couldn’t go away for the weekend because I had a Saturday class from 9-12 and had to work on Saturday night. Her plan was to leave after work on that Friday and come home on Sunday afternoon. To be honest with you, I was kind of looking forward to a quiet Friday night by myself. I was sitting there at the dining table typing a report for school when the phone rang. It was my wife. They had gotten as far as US290 and FM1960 and the car had just “died”. Well, great. I figured it was most likely something such as a loose alternator belt causing the battery not to charge. I immediately drove out to the scene of the crime and after tightening the alternator belt using a crowbar, I hooked up jumper cables expecting the Honda to fire right up. My wife was sitting in the car with the kids and when I told her to try the key, nothing happened. Not even a click-click-click. Nothing happened at all. So, I called a wrecker and had them deliver it to a mechanic that we had used before. Of course, they were closed, but they would check it out the next day. So much for a quiet evening by myself.

            The next morning, I went to my class as usual and figured I would swing by the shop on the way home to find out what was wrong. I was still thinking that it would be something simple such as a completely dead battery. I got out of class and headed for the shop. When I got to the shop and walked in the front door, the owner looked at me and I could tell by the way that he looked that the news wasn’t going to be good. The problem? The timing belt broke. Now, that wouldn’t have been that big of an expense to simply replace the belt. But when a timing belt breaks while you’re driving, then serious damage to the engine can occur. And that’s exactly what had happened. I was told the engine was beyond repair. The valves and head were toast. He gave me the name of a guy who would buy salvage vehicles and said that I might be able to get a few bucks for the car. This was devasting news. I did not want to have to tell my wife that news. I called the salvage guy and he met me at the shop to look at the car. He said the best he could do was give me $250. I saw no alternative, so I sold it to him. We were back to being a one car family again.

            I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying about when God closes a door, He opens a window. Well, the door was that Honda Accord. The window that opened for us came about 2 weeks later. I got a call from my brother-in-law. He had bought a 1977 Chevrolet Impala a few months before and now his company was giving him a company car. He didn’t need that Impala and he literally gave us that car. It was a $750 gift. I just had to pay to transfer the title. It wasn’t without its issues, but even the one major thing that happened to that car lead to another window being opened by God. We had that Impala for about 8 months, and it was Christmas time. The transmission went out on the darn thing. A used transmission was going to cost $300. There went Christmas, or so I thought.  But someone had heard about our troubles and I received an anonymous gift of $300. All I could think was, “Wow”. It didn’t end there. About two weeks later someone else had heard about the problem and didn’t know about the gift we had received. This person was a deacon at our church, and he came to me to ask me if I needed help. I explained about the gift and that we were mobile again. That’s when he said that he had an old 1979 Buick LeSabre that he had bought new and that it was in good condition. I figured he was going to offer to sell it to me cheap, but no matter how cheap it was I couldn’t afford it. Then he told me that he had loaned it to his son who lived in San Antonio and that it was just sitting there collecting dust. His son didn’t need it anymore. This godly man then told me that he would pay to fly me to San Antonio to meet his son and get the car. He would give us the car and even pay for transferring the title. That was one great ole big window that God opened! Between those two incredible gifts our transportation needs were met until after my graduation from college.

            I’ve been very blessed in my life. Those two events are good examples of God’s blessings. Sometimes Satan digs a hole to cause us to stumble, but God fills it back up. Sometimes He overfills it, and this allows us to step up a little higher and see all the holes that have been filled by God in our life. I also believe that sometimes God leaves the holes and allows us to trip because we need to learn something important. If nothing else, it teaches us to watch where we step and to avoid stumbling as much as we might otherwise do. The great composer Irving Berlin wrote a song that was featured in the classic Christmas movie, “White Christmas” that was called “Count Your Blessings (instead of sheep)”. I think that’s a great idea and even though things come along to get me down and I stumble, I try to focus on and count my blessings, rather than contemplating the negatives.

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