Well, we’re somewhat settled in our new house, and God is proving Himself faithful to us over and over again in so many ways. I haven’t written during this last month of moving and unpacking, but only because there seems so much to share, and no way to start. I’m sure it’ll make it all out eventually, but for the time being, I’d like to share a little something that happened about a week and a half ago.
As anyone who’s ever moved knows, (and I think that means everyone,) moving entails boxes, boxes, and more boxes… and then frustration when you can’t find things in those boxes! Well, this series of moves hasn’t been any different. Sure, I tried to stay organized, labeling boxes and keeping a notebook of important things and which box they’re in, etc. And of course, I packed boxes in order from least-needed, to most-needed, so supposedly I could get to the things I’d need first, without having to sift through the things I could do without.
The problem with this, is that this means that the things you use most often don’t get packed until last minute, when you’re so stressed out and distracted that you’re lucky to be able to find the marker, let alone label the box correctly.
So, I’ve found myself in the position of knowing exactly where all of the things that I don’t need are, while going weeks without being able to find things that I used every day before we moved! (Case in point, my kid’s plastic drinking cups, and our iron.)
Before I continue with my little story, however, I need to take a little detour and mention another complication of moving.
Yes, we found ourself needing to think about tax filing, amid three changes of address and hundreds of boxes. (Yep, I forgot to think about taxes when I was packing boxes last fall.) So this means I had to deal with figuring out which address every 1099 and W-2 was being mailed to, and would it be forwarded, and where in the world did I put last year’s tax return?
That last question is where my story begins.
I’ve done our taxes using TurboTax for the last seven years or so, and used TurboTaxOnline for the last three. Each year I e-file, and when it’s accepted, I print the thing off, AND I save a PDF copy of it to my computer and a CD, along with every single digital file that had to do with the tax return. Well, by the beginning of 2006, I’d gone totally digital, meaning that every bank statement, every credit card statement, our checkbook, and everything else was saved on my computer as a PDF. I loved it, as it’s soooo much easier to keep digital paperwork organized than real paperwork! So last year’s tax file was quite small. Just the printed out back-up of our 1040, the W-2 and the few 1099’s that were mailed, a small envelope of receipts, and a CD that held everything else.
I blithely started this year’s tax return, and breezed through it until I came to the “Did you sell a house last year?” I answered yes, and came to a screeching halt. For various self-employed purposes that I won’t go into, I needed to reference our tax returns for the last six years that we’d owned the house. Uh… where are those, again? I sighed and put off doing our taxes for a week. I put it off for another week. Finally I tackled it and was relieved to have found the tax returns with relative ease.
Except 2006’s wasn’t in there.
I searched through every folder, thinking that maybe, because it was so small, I’d stuck it in another year’s folder.
So I thought, no big deal. Sure I’ll have to find it eventually, but I’ll just boot up the computer (currently sitting on the floor of an unfinished basement) and pull up the digital files. I went down there, and the kids already had it started up through their login. Well, I’ve got the thing set up so I can still access all of my files from their side, so I clicked away and located my tax file from 2006. I double clicked on it, Adobe Acrobat opened up, and I got a little pop-up saying, “This file cannot be opened.”
I tried again, just in case I had double-clicked wrong. Is that possible?
Okay. Well, surely it had gotten backed up on one of the many backup CD’s I’d made since March of last year. I took a deep breath and started digging through more boxes. I located six or seven backup CD’s. Nothing.
Now I was starting to get frantic.
Then I had the idea that maybe TurboTax Online had saved a copy in my account. I logged back in and searched around, but I couldn’t find anything. So I searched the help files, and sure enough, it says that it DOES save last year’s return. It took me half an hour to find the link (talk about poor interface planning) and, relieved, I clicked on it.
“You have no 2006 tax file on record. Either you used a different login last year, or you did not file last year.”
I started panicking again. This login is several years old! I KNOW I filed our taxes last year! Hubby would NEVER have let me forget to file for his tax refund! I searched and searched, and started to think that last year might have been a dream. No printed tax file, and no saved tax file, except one that wouldn’t open. What if the one that wouldn’t open wasn’t finished?
I began looking for proof that I really had filed a return last year. Well, if we filed, then it should be easy to find the refund deposit in our savings account statement, right? So I went back to the computer to pull up our bank statements for March 2007.
“This file cannot be opened.”
I tried another file, and another. NONE of 2006’s files could be opened!
I thought about the fact that I’d encrypted them, just in case a hacker got onto my computer. Maybe that’s why they won’t open. Maybe if I un-encrypt them first!
They stubbornly stayed encrypted.
At this point I’m about ready to agree with my husband that computers just might, after all, be evil. I also have to leave the house and get some library books returned before they are overdue.
So I left the house, and my mind is in turmoil the whole way there and the whole way back. But finally I realized that I wasn’t trusting God at all. I surrendered, turned the whole thing over to Him, and prayed, “Lord, I need that tax return, and I can’t find it. You know why those files won’t open. You know where that copy I printed off is. Forgive me for freaking out like this. I surrender it all to you.”
I took a deep breath and peace flooded over me. Then this thought ‘occurred’ to me, less than a second later. Maybe the encrypted files wouldn’t open because you weren’t logged in on your side.
Uh… Lord, was that You?
I pulled into the garage, rushed downstairs to the computer, and waited less-than-patiently while the computer logged off of the kid’s side and logged in to my side, ran it’s virus-update, started up the firewall, started up Google Talk, and everything else the thing is set to do. I opened up Windows Explorer, went to those self-same files, and double-clicked.
I sighed with relief, thanked God profusely, and made dinner. And after dinner, I went to get some paper out of a folder somewhere and found the printed off copies.
Do you ever shake your head at yourself and wonder when you’ll ever learn?
Later that night, I was telling my husband all this (attempting to vindicate computers in his eyes) and, in order to avoid an argument, I changed the subject. I asked him how often he thought God is just waiting for us to quit freaking out and surrender the situation to Him. I don’t remember which of us mentioned my iron that I’d been searching for since we moved in, but I agreed and said that I supposed I should ask God where my iron was.
I paused for a moment, and the words came out of my mouth, “Maybe it’s in the box with my serger.”
Need I say that that’s where I found it when I got home?
Sometimes it amazes me how patient God is. He’s shown me numerous times through my life that He’s always there for me, yet so often I still totally forget Him. I get all worked up about a situation and either forget or refuse to turn it over to Him and trust Him. If He were me, He’d be tempted to teach me a lesson and say, “I’ve told you to come to me numerous times, and you refuse to do it. You can do it on your own this time, and maybe next time you’ll remember!” But no, He didn’t. In both cases, He didn’t even wait a full minute to tell me how to open my tax files, and to tell me where my iron was. Granted, I still haven’t found the plastic cups, but since I’ve got three that didn’t make it into the missing box, my glasses are still safe. I just have more room in my cupboards! (Which really isn’t a bad thing, after all.)
God’s goodness is amazing…