Tuesday, September 13, 2016

An Exodus To Find A Hidden Treasure

Sometimes God has to take you 554 miles away from home to give you the answer to the prayers you have been praying for. Why?! I mean He could have easily done it at your home, your office, your commute to work, the gas station, the grocery store, and the many other stops along the way. Most of the time in our daily lives we are distracted by everything around us and we fail to miss the obvious signs. Adjusting the radio. Adjusting the air conditioner. Thinking about our to do list for the day. Answering the phone. Thing is, would you have stopped along the way and looked for it.

Since I was old enough to remember, I have known there is a calling on my life. Sometimes I think I have gotten really close to walking in it 100%. Other times, I have run just as far away from it as the east is from the west. Why? Yes, another “why”… I don’t feel qualified. I don’t feel like I measure up. I know I don’t know The Word as much as some folks. I don’t have a degree in Bible theology. Whereas most folks think us Southerners talk too slow, my speed is always wide open. What do you say you the microphone is in your hand? How do you know for sure what you are speaking is exactly what God wants you to say? What if you “miss” it? How do you know when you are ready? And the biggest question of them all, how in the world do you even begin to start a ministry? This has been open discussions between God and I a lot lately.

You know the more you run and fight it, the more miserable you wind up being. Guess it is time to take the mini blinds down and let you see a little more into my world and where I have been in the last few months.

It is not a secret. I have been pretty much single the past six years. Yes, I do date. I have gone out with some great gentlemen for supper and conversation. Since calling off my engagement November 19, 2010, I threw myself into work, volunteering, road trips, anything to occupy my mind so I would not allow myself to get back to the place of opening my heart to have it completely shattered into a quadrillionzillonmillion pieces. Yes, that is officially a word now! Basically, I have been alone every New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, birthday (that’s a holiday, right?!), Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. Every single one of these days is based on having family and a significant other around you to celebrate these days. I have an amazing family and group of friends… Don’t think I am throwing them under the bus. They are my greatest support system and they know how much I love and appreciate every single one of them.

July 4th, 2016… A day of celebration of Independence Day… Ironic isn’t it? Independence… Independent… Standing alone… Single… It is the highlight of every summer. Families are taking trips to the beach, mountains, river, or the lake. Lots of time spent together on the road trips. Friends were all gathering together for grilling and swimming in the back yard poolside. Thanks to social media, I was reminded I was single. Not going any specific place; but if I would have been, I would have been going alone since everyone else had plans. Usually it does not get to me and bother me as bad as it did this year. I had gotten myself into a funk.

As soon as I had gotten off work on Saturday, I headed home and went straight to bed. Sunday morning ritual, got up, got my coffee, brushed my teeth, showered, put on another set of pajamas, and back to bed I went. Mentally I had beaten myself up and was in a place I don’t allow myself to get to very often. It was a shady place. Even when I get to these places I would never do anything to cause self harm to me, you all have my word on that. You get to a place where you are tired of even trying. Sunday was a day of tossing and turning and tossing and turning some more. Then thankfully, it was night and I fell asleep. Then on Monday morning, it was the same as Sunday. The more I looked at Facebook, the more depressed I became. However, around 2:00 I mustered up enough of whatever I had left and decided I needed to get ready to do to the stadium for the fireworks. Got completely ready. Walked out onto the front porch, put key in the dead bolt, locked the dead bolt, sat there a few seconds, and then turned the key in the dead bolt back to the left. Less than a minute later, there I was back lying across the bed, and stayed there until it was time for work on Tuesday morning.

The person I had allowed myself to become is not the normal “Windi”. Most of you can vouch for me if you now me personally. I had slowly allowed myself to become this person I was not used to being. Honestly, I did not like who I had become. Sure I could put on the game face in every day life. Since the world has enough negative drama on social media, I dare didn’t share my mully grubbing to everyone. There is a lot more people in this world fighting greater battles just to stay alive.

At 40, I am no where near where I thought I would be in life. I bet if I could sit down and talk to my 18 year old self, even she would be shocked. Life has not played out like I thought it would. Have I mentioned single and 40?! I don’t have kids of my own; that is the two legged kids. I got my four legged fur babies. Okay, so God “why”. I mean I know I am very independent, but I would be nice to have a husband around to borrow his shoulders when life gets too heavy. I am far from Miss America, but I would like to think I am that “girl next door” kinda cute. Above all else, I know I have a heart of gold and that should count for something, right?!

Now let us fast forward to August 2016. From August 12 – August 22, 2016, in only ten days, there were 20 Louisiana parishes (counties as we call them in Georgia) that experienced an overabundance of rainfall from a storms that seems to just “sit there”. Some locations received as much as 20 inches of rain in that time frame. Rivers flowed out of their banks. The flooding has gone on record (I read somewhere) to have been the “worst US natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.” The prolonged rain led to total disaster for some families and business owners who lost e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g……… Everything they had ever worked for. Pictures. Clothing.  Approximately 146,000 homes full of memories. Gone.

I, like most of the world, watched the news and social media to see this disaster unfolding along with the aftermath of the victims it left behind. I have always said we are one tragic event in our lives which changes everything as we knew it 5 minutes before. I lost my Daddy to cancer on 08/16/2008. In March of 2009, my Mom’s home caught on fire. She didn’t lose the house as the fire miraculously never made it out of the bathroom, but everything was smutted up. So I know and understand loss.

One of my friends had shared a post and it got me to thinking. One of those heart string pulling kind of posts. I am on the local Advisory Board for The Salvation Army. This post had shared what efforts volunteers with The Salvation Army were doing to help out from all over the country. I decided then, I was going to do something to help in some way out there. Since Labor Day weekend was only a couple of weeks away, I decided I was not going to be sitting myself at home alone repeating the schedule as I followed July 4th. I refused to sit all cooped up at home. I talked with family and friends, most importantly God, and decided I would collect donations from those who wanted to donate and deliver them to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Salvation Army distribution center there was also lost in the flood which meant all supplies they would have had for the victims was also lost. After phone calls and text messages were sent, I made my announcement to Facebook on Thursday, only nine days prior to me loading up and heading west. Donations were hygiene products, shampoo, deodorant, baby diapers and wipes, food, cleaning supplies, dog and cat food, water, food, and other items. By the time we loaded the last item on Saturday, September 3, the 6’ x 12’ U-Haul trailer was about 80% loaded!!! I think my friends and family are pretty amazing!!!

I had a few friends and family wanting to go with me on the trip. I knew in my heart I needed this alone time with God. I needed to be by myself to sort out whatever it was going on in my life. I had gotten to the place where I was overwhelmed. This was the perfect opportunity to go help someone else in need as well as helping myself. I love a good road trip. Anywhere, USA, always sounds like a good destination spot. I needed to do this trip for me to get me away from the hustle and the bustle. No computer. Limited cell phone. Some K-Love blaring out the speakers. Time for me to allow God to work on me without any distractions.  

I left Coffee County with a heavy load (physically and mentally) around 7:00 p.m. on Saturday. I made it to the Cortana Mall, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, around 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning. The crew there unloaded the trailer and then I was off to find a hotel since I had spent that much time in the vehicle and had been up for 36+ hours. The Salvation Army was set up in an empty Macy’s building in the Cortana Mall. The whole mall was vacant so I am pretty sure it was also a flood location that had been cleaned before they set up.

After everything was unloaded, it was time to drop the U-Haul and find a place to get some sleep. As I was leaving the mall area, you could see families that had set up tents to sleep there. Some were sleeping in their vehicles. Some even found shelter under the bus stop booth. As I was pulling out, I noticed a pile of what I thought was “trash”. As I got closer, I could tell it was a book of some sort. So I slowed down and realized it was a Bible that was open. Part of me was ready to jump out and get it right then, the other part of me thought it may have belonged to some of the residents there. I wound up not stopping to pick it up. The rest of the night it crossed my mind a couple of times and I decided I was going to go back and pick it up if it was still there the next day. I mean what if where it was opened to was something I needed to read?

I had forgotten to unload a box of baby formula and milk on the first trip to the donation site. Monday morning I headed back up to deliver and with a made up mind if the Bible was still there, I was going to be getting it. I pulled up to the side door and handed the security guard the box. Explained where it was from. Then out to the parking lot I went in search of my treasure. Sure enough it was there. I could tell it was pretty waterlogged from either the flood or the thunderstorm which passed thru the night before. Nevertheless, I proudly picked it up and placed it in the back seat of my truck on a plastic bag. I did not stop to read where it was open to or anything at the time as it was too wet and smelled of mildew. The grass under where had been, was a bright neon green color. It had been there a while.

It wasn’t until Wednesday night after I returned home that I settled down to read the Scriptures of where the Bible was opened. That is when I had an ah-ha moment. Matthew 7:7-8 is subtitled “Effective Prayer”, it is written in red, as Jesus said Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. This takes me back to the place I was when I was asking all of those questions in paragraph two of this blog. I have been asking. I have been seeking. I have been knocking on heaven’s door a lot lately. The answer to my prayers was like a hidden treasure lying out on that grass.

The Bible was opened to Exodus 4. I always think about Exodus as Moses always travelling around. Already, I knew God was on point since I love to ramble as much as I can!!! Merriam-Webster's definition of "exodus" is "The Biblical book of Exodus describes the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, so it's no surprise that the word has come to refer more generally to any mass departure. The word itself was adopted into English (via Latin) from Greek Exodus, which literally means "the road out." The Greek word was formed by combining the  prefix ex- and hodos, meaning "road" or "way." 

As I was reading, when I got to verses 10 – 12, I had the realization of why I had made the trip all the way out there. It wasn’t just for the donations delivered to the victims who were in desperate need of them. I needed to get out there to find the Bible I found. Exodus 4:10-12 reads 

10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind?Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

I guess it doesn’t get any plainer than that. As I read it, I got the heart racing, chill bumps, and eyes filled with tears emotions going on. I knew then and there God had placed the Bible there for little, big ole me!

Do I know what the next step is or where to go from here? I don’t have a clue. I just know to trust in The One who will open the door when the time is right.

If you look around to torn out page, wrapping the rest of the Bible, as you will see in the picture, it is Proverbs 3:5-6 ….
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,  and he will make your paths straight.”

Just to ease all the speculation as to my Facebook post as I made a bland post and some took it as a “man” I had found out there. To a degree I did find “The Man” and His Word. So for now, you all are still stuck with me in Coffee County.

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