The Unexpected

Talking on the phone every day is a tradition Mom and I have held for many years. As a Mom, I have enjoyed transferring this tradition to our daughter, especially now that Collins is away from home. Talking to her daily is a treasure and a gift. I thank God every day that He has gifted us with a relationship, the desire, and the ability to talk daily. The value of that gift has increased significantly in the last 10 days. It is so funny to see the unexpected lessons God has for us. Allow me to explain.

This is the first year since Collins was 10 that she didn’t spend her spring break either working on her golf game or playing in a tournament, or both. She actually had a new normal for her spring break this year. She chose to go with her church in Athens on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Before she left, I warned her not to believe the lies the enemy would throw at her for choosing to spend her break this way.

One of the first lies involved her being cut off from communication with her family and boyfriend. She enjoys that communication and so do we. She dreaded it. She also wondered if she had made the right decision after seeing her friends leave for home, cruises and beach trips…..but she knew this was where she was supposed to be. I appreciated her expressing her fears and doubts. I assured her those were normal fears, especially when you take a step toward God and obedience. Satan loves to tempt you to doubt and make you fearful. Knowing that she has a tenacious personality and an unusual maturity for 20, I wasn’t worried.

The eight days were long for me. I really missed our daily contact so much so that I had to drive with her boyfriend, Mike, to surprise her on her return to the USA last Saturday! Of course I wanted to see her, but I couldn’t wait to hear all she had experienced and all God had taught her on the trip. On the Back 9, I know one thing, when you obey God and take a huge leap of faith, there are always blessings to follow. ALWAYS!!!

The next morning, after a good night’s rest, I asked her what God had taught her. For the next two hours she shared from her heart, showing me pictures and videos on her phone. I will leave most of the writing and sharing up to her. I hope to post some of it this summer, but I would like to share a few things from my perspective.

She shared how families in this remote village in the Dominican Republic gave up their children and allowed them to move away for survival’s sake. Some didn’t see their children for several years, if ever. In every hut the team visited they were offered some kind of gift. The villagers were very loving and wanted to hug and touch and show love. She, as am I, was amazed at the love these very poor people had for the American strangers.

Collins loved the children and mostly enjoyed playing with and sharing Christ with them. She said when her team members were sharing their testimony, she didn’t really want or feel led to share her testimony. I was sooo curious about this. Of course I asked her why not. She said her testimony didn’t seem relevant. I was really confused….I feel like everyone’s testimony is relevant. I had to say, “Please help me understand why you didn’t think your testimony was relevant?” Collins said, “Mom….these poor people who live in huts with dirt floors, who barely have enough food to eat, no running water, no air conditioning, and wear the same clothes sometimes for 6 days in a row, how could they ever relate to my faith and relationship with God? Growing from the pain I have suffered from the sudden loss of college golf in my life? Golf is a sport. It would not have been understandable for them. College is not an option for them including college golf. This trip really minimized my loss of college golf at UGA. I still get to play the game I love.”

Her perspective pretty much left me speechless. I knew that this trip would be life changing for Collins………but never, never did I imagine…..all that God accomplished on this trip in and through Collins. She went to serve, but as ALWAYS, when you step out in obedience, you 100% of the time come away with more than you bring or offer. Most of the team members were strangers to Collins so she also came away with relationships with people who also attend the University of Georgia. People who love what she loves and share the same values and beliefs. Gold, pure Gold!!! The group texting was non-stop from her team when she returned. God is so good.

As a mom, let me just help you, the reader, to understand……If you have a child who goes through a painful life circumstance……POINT THEM TO GOD! It doesn’t mean the pain will go away or that you won’t be disappointed in people. It doesn’t mean there will not be lifelong scars …..but it does mean……God can mature you, grow you, change you, redirect you. He will never leave you or forsake you.

Collins has now experienced Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” And Genesis 50:20, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about the present result.”

This verse in Genesis refers to Joseph. Joseph’s life was anything but peaceful. He was sold into slavery by jealous brothers and thrown into prison on false charges. Yet, he remained free of bitterness or regret and saw God as the “Great Engineer” behind even the worst of circumstances. In a final confrontation with his brothers, he graciously noted, “You meant it for bad; God meant it for good.”

As a mom, I have experienced much hurt through watching our children get hurt, maybe a better word is devastated……standing on the sideline helping to pick up the pieces of “ripped apart flesh” is not something I signed up for as a mom! Hardest thing I have ever done; but knowing and trusting that He who began a good work will carry it on to completion is where we have all chosen to live.

God hasn’t finished writing the story…..His strokes of the paint brush in Collin’s life are starting to take form……so confident in a holy God…who catches every tear…… who has compassion…… and who brings beauty from ashes……When you don’t see God’s hand, always trust HIS Heart.

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