I was a junior in high school and my Grandma said she would pay for my college if I did the work to get accepted by a university. Not long after I understood this, my grades jumped from Bs and Cs to As and Bs. Still, I got into Brigham Young University by the skin of my teeth. Once in, my grandma basically gave me a scholarship that paid for my tuition, books, housing, and food. This was a total privilege and the beginning of my freedom from years of having very little money.
Just before my junior year of college, I went home for a visit. During that visit, I went car shopping with my friends. Before this shopping trip I had never fathomed purchasing my own car. But my friends were doing it, so why couldn’t I? I test-drove a few cars and imagined myself the owner. My car payments could be as low as $150 to $200 a month. At school, I had to take the bus everywhere or rely on roommates who had cars. To have my own would be awesome! It would increase my independence, which I was all about during those days.
I happened to mention this to my grandma one day when I was visiting her. I was surprised at her response. She was very clear that if I purchased a car, she would no longer support me. I couldn’t believe it. This created a major conflict inside me. I wanted to do what I wanted to do. I had too much respect for her to argue with her, but inside I was writhing. Privately, I decided that I would buy my own car and support myself at school. I didn’t like people standing in the way of what I REALLY wanted. I was bound and determined to get a job when I went back to school.
And so, back in Provo, Utah, one morning in the beginning of the Fall semester of 1989, I had a dream. It was during that time between wake and sleep. I received the clear direction not to buy a car. I had the impression that I needed to humble myself and accept my grandmother’s will. She was paying for my college. This was a major privilege. I needed to realize that and submit myself to her conditions. Now, that is a no-brainer for me. But back then all my brain cells hadn’t fully developed in my frontal lobe.
In that state between wake and sleep, all my pride and willfulness were down. When I woke up, I consciously knew that the Lord was directing me in this financial decision. Because I respected him so much, and he had earned my trust throughout my growing-up years, I listened. I knew he had my back. I knew that he wanted to guide me along the best pathway. When he spoke to me, it was my pleasure (literally) to listen.
I treasured this experience, not just in hindsight, but that very day. As a result of listening to this and his other counsel, I graduated from college in Spring 1992.
Fast forward 7 years to 1999. I was now married and had 3 kids. We were living in Westminster, Colorado. I was expecting Laura – our 4th child. This was too many kids for our Toyota Corolla. We needed a family car for everyone to fit. We had gone car shopping for a dark blue Toyota Sienna, their latest and greatest minivan. The van was expensive, but we figured we could make the payments. We actually signed all the papers at the dealership. They didn’t have the van on the lot, so they had to order it. When we asked, the dealer said that we had some time to cancel it if we had second thoughts.
The next morning in that space between wake and sleep, I was counseled not to buy the minivan. I woke up and told my husband. He accepted the counsel and we canceled the deal. Not long after, we found a used Nissan Quest minivan for quite a bit less. In time, I realized that the Toyota wasn’t the best choice financially and the Lord had cared enough to help with that.
Again, I treasured this experience. There have been many times that I have received financial counsel from Him over the years. Subsequently, my family has always been taken care of. There have been tight times – times when we were very restricted in our spending and times when we lost lots of money in investments, but we have always had what we needed and have come through.
In 2006, we were living in Aurora, Colorado. We had our 4 kids and a few cats and lived on a couple of acres. I had a dream. I was at a bank teller. It was the Bank of America in San Jose, CA in the shopping center on the corner of Snell and Blossom Hill Road for those of you from my hometown. The teller was broken and lots of money was coming out of it. I got out of the car with a box and loaded the money into it. Other people were there doing the same. After I filled my box, I got back in the car and knew that I had scored a million dollars. I was so excited. I was thinking of all the ways we could spend it – paying off bills, loans, etc.
But then I suddenly remembered that this was dishonest. I couldn’t take the bank’s money like that. At that realization, I couldn’t seem to muster up the strength in me to do the right thing. I was experiencing an internal conflict. How could I possibly let a million dollars go? It was so much money and I had been thinking that it was mine, fair and square.
Then, just as suddenly I remembered that if I made the honest choice, I would have the Lord’s promise – the privilege of his guidance and riches that only come by being true to his way of doing things. Honesty. Integrity. I realized that the million dollars paled in comparison. It wasn’t worth it. We may have enjoyed the money for a while, but eventually, it would come to an end and I would have traded something much more valuable for a mess of pottage (Genesis 25:29-34). I knew that what the Lord had to offer was everlasting spiritual and temporal support. I would be better off in the long run, even financially, if I took this money into the bank. And that’s what I did.