Saturday, March 14, 2015

Thank you, Jina.

This morning started out like many Saturday mornings before. My new schedule has put my body into auto-pilot at about 5:00am whether I want to wake up or not. The positive side, I get up and out and do all my errands before 12:00pm. It was just like any other Saturday until a black Mercedes decided to change lanes into mine causing me to slam on my brakes and hit a parked car.

I’m fine. And actually, I’m a really good driver! There is hardly any damage, I’m not hurt, and neither is anyone else. Praise Jesus!

But that car sped off. As it drove off, I was still in semi shock that what had happened just happened. However I started frantically pointing at the cars driving pass me, and miming: “GO GET THAT CAR!!! PLEASE!!”

As the owner of the car I hit came out with his boss, I got out of my car and my body took over. As this “boss” man tried to figure out what had happened and had obviously made up his mind that I did something wrong to cause it, he asked “Were you not paying attention?” As I tried to explain what had happened he would cut me off and ask if I understood the questions he was asking. Thankfully, the owner of the car was much calmer.

It felt horrible. An injustice had happened! This was NOT my fault! And while cars drove by, and spectators just watched, I started to feel helpless. The “boss” man asked if I wanted to get some water – I did. And as I came back out, Jina drove up (same pronunciation, different spelling).

She was driving behind me and saw the entire thing. As soon as she said “I saw what happened, it was totally the other car’s fault” I yelled “thank you Jesus!” at the top of my lungs! She corroborated my story and she also followed the car to get the license plate number. She was in a hurry to leave, but she agreed to give us her name and number.

The police came and took a report, but didn’t seem interested to get any information. I told him “I have a witness!” and he said, “Your insurance will take care of it.”  He never asked if I was okay. He never ran the license plate. He never said “I’ll go get the bad guy.” The one who I expected to bring help didn’t.

After speaking to my insurance company, I wanted to lay down and go to bed. I never wanted to drive again. But I made myself get in my car and finish my errands…even if it was almost 12:00 by this time. As I drove, I looked at every black Mercedes license plate I saw…and I saw a lot of them! If the people I expected to help me wouldn’t, then I would help myself!

At some point during my hunt…errr…errand running, I all of a sudden thought of Jina. As I thought of her, tears came to my eyes. She saw an injustice and she stopped. She did something when no one else did. She was in a hurry to get somewhere, but she stopped because it was the right thing to do. Not convenient. Not necessary. But right. And as I thought of this I was overjoyed. Honestly, if nothing else comes of this but my insurance company fixing this guys mirror (I’m telling y’all I’m a freaking good driver…that’s all that was damaged!) then I was okay with that because Jina stopped!

Not only did Jina stop, but my car was not damaged. I was not hurt. Nobody else was hurt. There was only minor damage to the other car. The owner of the car was pleasant. The insurance company operator was nice as can be. As soon as I could, I texted my “prayer warriors” and asked for prayer. I realized that I was being helped in so many ways! I would come out of this unscathed and vindicated…I am sure He commanded His angels to protect me!

And of course, like God will often do, I realized in a moment that it was so much more. This accident was an accident but no accident…I realize that there have been times in my life recently where I have expected someone to help, expected someone to see an injustice and stop it, expected someone to pull over and say, “No, this girl has been wronged!” And when no one does, I tend to want to do it myself.

In that instance I realized I don’t need to fight. I don’t need to vindicate myself. God is always working behind the scenes…putting the right people in my path. Setting up the right situations at the right time. Loving me through my friends and family and sometimes through a stranger who just decides to say, “you were wronged.”

So I am thankful for the Jina's in the world who are used by God to remind us that He sees it. He knows it. He fixes it. And He cares.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy 19th

Every day is a gift. I believe that with my whole heart.

There are some days, however, that are not only a gift, but change the entire projection of your life. Sometimes your eternity can change in a day. February 2, 1996 was not just life changing, but eternity changing for me.

I was in a really, really bad place. The person I had loved most in the world decided the feeling was no longer mutual, and I was devastated. What I had pictured my future to be had changed in an instant. And as I lay on my bathroom floor sobbing, I thought my life was over.

Little did I know a new life would begin.

That night, my older brother told me about his relationship with Jesus. I knew it had changed him. And I was desperate for something to take away the pain. He had asked me several times before, but on this night, I accepted the invitation.

What I learned that night was about God’s amazing grace. The song flooded my head for the next several days. A song I had heard hundreds of times but never really listened to the words of, started making complete sense to me. I didn’t have to earn God’s love…it was freely given. All I needed to do was accept it. His grace is sufficient and amazing and never ending.

The next several years, I searched for a church – but it wasn’t until I walked through the doors of Oasis in 2006 that I felt like I was home. I started learning my value by listening to the life transforming messages of Pastor Philip & Holly. I raised my hands in surrender to God during service for the first time while Shunna lead worship.  I took my first step of publicly proclaiming my faith through baptism after going through a class that Alex lead. I prayed out loud for others for the first time during Chad & Sarah-Gayle’s connect group. I learned about servant leadership and using my gifts from Bonnie and the Godchicks team.  I took my first steps of freedom from hurts and habits from Anthony in CR and Jocelyn in Grief Recovery. I learned to do my first word study from Ashley during my internship. I experienced a different relationship with the Holy Spirit after one conversation with Justin about their friendship. My understanding of what forgiveness really means and how much God really loves me was deepened under Bill’s teaching. And here I am, almost three years on staff…my first job in ministry, because of Melony.

I’m realizing that I WAS that unchurched person that our mission statement at Oasis Church is trying to reach. I’m proof that God is working through His church and His people and it’s not because I earned it, it’s because God so graciously offered me a choice, and I chose Jesus. I am still excited and thankful that I have the opportunity to lead others to that choice as well.

What a journey! And the best is yet to come…

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A New Year, A New Door, A Renewed Focus

You know how they say “When one door closes, another one opens?” Am I the only one who heard that and pictured a swinging door on the other side that automatically flung open? They really should have gone on to say that the open door doesn’t always happen immediately.

I closed the door on another season of life today. As we embark on a new year, on new beginnings and fresh starts…I find myself moving out of one of the best living situations I’ve had as a single adult to one that is temporary and not ideal. I know I’ll be moving again. Although necessary, I was kind of hoping another door would open immediately that would make this door stay open. It didn’t.

I have opened and closed more doors than I’d like to think about in the past year. Some of them were actually closed for me. Some of them I worked hard to close. Thankfully I’m learning to not pry them open and walk through them prematurely.

I’ve actually walked through a couple doors in my lifetime. I mean physically walked through them. One of these times was at a friend’s bridal shower. It was at this amazing house overlooking the ocean. I was walking from the kitchen to the outside terrace with a tray, talking to someone behind me while trying to walk forward and walked right through their very expensive screen door!

I learned a valuable lesson that day – it’s really hard to move forward while looking backward. Especially through a closed door!

So as I walk through the door of a new year, I feel that God is telling me to focus. Focus on where I’m going, not where I’ve been. Focus on health goals. Focus on spiritual maturity. Focus on relationships. Focus on the things that really matter and not the things or voices that try to distract me.

“…I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward...” Philippians 3:13-14