Hello, Jeannine here and today I'm going to share with all of you how God has been working in my life the past few weeks because it's just too amazing to not share!
To begin with, I need to tell you that our youngest daughter, Rachel, left for Africa last Thursday for a missions trip with our church and will be there for 18 days. Rachel has never been away from home for that long, she's never been that far from home, and she's never been anywhere that has the threat of getting yellow fever, malaria, or a number of other horrible illnesses so this was really pushing me to my limit! (Seems funny how I'm the one being pushed to my limit when she's the one going there, but if you knew me, you'd understand. lol)
I'm doing much better today than I was on Thursday, but I think that's partly due to the fact that I know they're now in Mango safe and sound, and partly because God has been reassuring me that I don't need to worry. I know that just because God tells me not to worry doesn't mean it will be smooth sailing for them all the time, but it's still a comfort to hear from God that way. :)
So, onto what I wanted to share with all of you... Thursday night as we made our way to the airport, my anxiety was slowly building the closer we got to the airport. Dave and the girls were talking about the trip and I was quiet because I was trying to talk myself into not worrying! Finally, I realized that I can't do this on my own so I prayed and asked God to give me peace. I also prayed for Rachel to have peace because I know she hides her feelings at times and thought maybe she was feeling a little anxiety about the trip too. (She's not terribly fond of the long flight.) I no sooner finished my sentence asking for God to give us peace when I opened my eyes and (the way it happened, it was like it was right there on the side of the road) saw a billboard that read, "Stop the worry". Can you believe it???!! What are the chances of us passing that billboard at that moment in time, you know?! I told Dave and the girls, "Let the God moments begin!" and I explained to them what had happened. Before I said what the billboard said, Rachel interrupted me and said, "Oh!! The 'Stop the worry' billboard? Is that the one?" I said, "YES!" She said, "I saw that too!" Bethany & Dave did not see it. Interesting, that only Rachel and I did, huh? Well in all fairness, it was on our side of the vehicle. Still though, I find it interesting that Rachel and I both saw it at the same time. Not a coincidence, if you ask me.
I'm a picture addict, so anytime I can get a picture to remember a special moment, I want to get one. Yesterday after church Dave and I went out for lunch and I asked him if we could go down that part of the expressway again so I could see this billboard in the light of day. I was so curious to know what it was advertising! Here's the part that I find so interesting. As we drove down the expressway, I was looking for this billboard, fully expecting it to be right off the side of the road because the night that I saw it, it was not something I had to search for, it was very obvious and easy to see. It was like a big neon sign! Dave was looking for it too (even though he didn't see it on Thursday night) and he assumed it was one that was right on the side of the road since Rachel and I both saw it so clearly. Well as it turns out, we almost missed it because it's probably 200 yards away from the road!! When I finally saw it, Dave pulled off the road onto the shoulder so I could get a clear picture of it, which you can see below. If you look at the picture, you'll see how far off the road it was and if I remember right, it was kind of hard to find because there's a bridge we went under before we'd be able to see the billboard. I'm sure there are people who would say it's just a coincidence but I will not believe that. As I said, the night that I saw it, it seemed very big and close and it's not close and not nearly as big as I remember it! lol I still don't know what it's advertising!! LOL I don't really care, I just love the fact that God used that sign to tell me something he wanted me to know - "stop worrying, I've got it under control!" :) By the way, the anxiety disappeared instantly once I read that billboard. ;)
This is what it looks like if I zoom in. I apologize for the poor quality photo, but it was taken with my husband's cell phone.
Let's back up a little bit. About two weeks ago was when I started to think more about how dangerous this trip to Africa seemed to me (whether that's true or not that's how I felt about it) I started to worry and feel anxiety about it. I didn't tell anyone because it embarrasses me when I get like this. I had downloaded an app for my iPod a long time ago, called You Version, and have been "reading" my Bible that way. I put quotes around the word "reading" because I don't actually read, it's read to me because that's an option you get with You Version. Well about 2 weeks ago, when my anxiety about the trip started to build, I noticed that my app wasn't working properly. It would normally read a portion of Genesis, a portion of Matthew, a portion of Psalms and then a portion of Proverbs but for some reason, it started acting funny. It would read the next portion of Genesis, Matthew and Psalms, but for some "unknown" reason, it kept repeating the Proverbs scripture. You will not guess what portion of scripture that the app kept repeating. Take a wild guess. It was Proverbs 3.... you know, the chapter that has the scripture that talks about how we should TRUST GOD! ROFL For those who may not know, it says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path." (Ok, I kind of combined the NIV with the King James but you get the idea. lol) I kid you not, that happened for 5 or 6 days in a row. I thought something was wrong with my iPod or the app so I reset my iPod, then I deleted the app and downloaded it again and it kept doing it!! I'm like, "What is wrong with this app?" ROFL I even talked with our older daughter, Bethany, about it because she's the one that told me about the option to have it read to you so I asked her if she'd ever experienced that before and she said no. Interesting.
I hate to admit it, but I'm kind of thick headed. If you need me to understand something sometimes you have to repeat it over and over before it sinks in. God knows this about me too. I don't know how he could have so much patience with me, but thankfully he does! Here's why I say that... I still worried even after that happened because believe it or not, even after the app reading me Proverbs 3 five or six days in a row, my thick head didn't get the message! I kept worrying.
Another thing... I was whining to God one day recently saying, "I miss hearing from you, Lord. I love it when you speak to me. I'm trying so hard to stay close with you but it's so hard when I don't hear from you." Ok remember that when you read what happened next. lol
I get this email every day from a site called "Whisper of God". (If you don't get this email I strongly suggest you sign up for it because it has been amazing for me. Just go to "whisperofgod.com" and you'll see where you can sign up for the email. It truly has been a whisper from God so many times for me!) I was going thru my old emails about 4 days ago and came across some from Whisper of God that I hadn't read yet (I'm terrible about checking my email) so I clicked on them to see what I'd missed. Here's one that I read that day:
"There are those who become disappointed thinking that God hasn't spoken to them because they have not heard a loud booming voice. But, He does speak to us all of the time - mostly in quiet ways that we need to keep our eyes, ears, mind, and heart open to hear."
Is that awesome or what?! So once I read that I thought, "Ok.... apparently God IS speaking to me but I'm just not hearing it because I'm not listening. I need to listen!"
Here's what happened next. Yesterday morning as I was getting ready for church, I prayed and asked God to speak to me very clearly because I really needed to hear from him. My friend, Patti, told me about this great book called "Crazy Love" the other night so after church, I went to the bookstore to see if they had it and they did. I wasn't sure if I wanted my own copy or not because Bethany told me she's got it and would loan me hers. I like to write in books if they're good though so I wanted to thumb thru it to see if it looked like one that would really get my attention. Get this. I randomly opened the book, not having any idea what the current chapter would be about when I opened it and it opened up to page 42. Now, this in itself is weird because normally if I open a book up like this, I usually open it up half way thru. I don't know why, but that's what I do. This time I did it differently. I opened it up to page 42 and you'll never guess what it was talking about on page 42!!
Here's what I read: "Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives."
CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS??? ROFL I mean, it may as well have had my name written in there, my word!!! The moment I read that sentence I said to myself, "Ok. That settles it. I don't need to see anymore. I'm buying it because it's obvious God wants me to read this book." lol
Believe it or not, there's MORE but I'll stop at this so I don't keep you here reading all day but is that cool or is that COOL??? I cannot tell you how much I love it when God does this. I LOVE IT!!!! Just knowing that the God of this universe cares enough about little ol' me to repeatedly tell me things he wants me to hear just blows me away. How awesome is that??!!
You know, when Rachel told me months ago that she was going on this trip to Africa, I remember thinking, "Oh great. I already know how this is going to play out. I'm going to feel anxious and it's going to stink because I hate feeling anxious!!" However, I also remember this little voice inside saying, "Or.... Rachel won't be the only one learning from the experience - you will too." Being the thick headed person I am, I brushed it off! LOL Well it's all coming back to me now and I must say it's been awesome. I absolutely LOVE hearing from God. There is nothing like it in the world. Nothing.
So.... just in case any of you are experiencing anxiety, I hope what I've shared will comfort you as it has for me. As I'm typing this all up I'm thinking to myself, "My word, girl. What does God have to do to get through to you??" LOL I'm so thankful he's so patient!!