Lessons We Learned

Both of these were read at my dad’s funeral service. We both could have written much more about what we learned from him, but we would have been there all day. We had a great dad. 

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Six Things My Dad Taught Me

Written By: His Baby Girl

  • The heart of the Father

I don’t know how many times we would be in conversation talking about a need for us or the ministry and my dad instantly would ask how much it was and say that they were going to cover it. We weren’t asking for help. He just saw a need and he wanted to meet it. Because of this, I would pray for God’s provision on bigger things and I would think about my dad. If my earthly father wanted to meet our needs so much and would do whatever he could to make it happen, how much more was our Heavenly father able and willing to meet our needs? He showed me the heart of the Father.

  • How to be a friend

My dad was willing to do anything to help someone. He would drive hours to help a friend. He would drop everything he was doing to be with someone who needed him. He would visit people in the hospital, attend funerals for people he didn’t even know to support those he did know, and he would give his time, money, and energy to those around him. If I am half as good of a friend as him, I will feel like I have succeeded. He was just that good of a friend to people.

  • The importance of God’s Word

Growing up, I would walk into his room and see him reading his Bible. It was nothing unusual. It was just something I always saw. As I grew older, I realized how special this was. He loved to talk about what he read and would ask questions about the scriptures. He loved the Bible. Even while he was sick in hospice care and had no energy to read, he kept his Bible in his bed with him. It was an honor for me during his last few weeks of life to be able to sit or lay next to him in his bed and read the Bible to him. I knew the memories I was making with Him would last forever.

  • How to be a giver

My dad realized that his money wasn’t his own and that was evident in all that he did. God blessed him and He wanted to be a blessing to others. I’m sure there were so many people who received from my dad that we won’t ever even know about. He wasn’t doing it for the attention or for a thank you. He saw a need and he met it. I have always looked up to him in this and wanted to be the kind of person, just like him, with an open heart and open hands.

  • To take pride in what we do and in what we had

According to the world’s standards, my dad was probably never the smartest in the room. He had a high school education and never went to college. But my dad had something that not everyone has: a great work ethic. He took pride in what he did and would always make sure that it was done right. He worked for over 30 years at Exxon, learning his trade and he knew how to work with his hands. Around the house, he would always want it to be clean and would do whatever it took to make that happen, even if sometimes I would make that difficult. Sorry for all of the messes, dad. 😉 He knew that material possessions were temporary, but he also realized that they were a gift from God and he took good care of what he was entrusted with. I want to have that mentality in my life.

  • The value of integrity.

I sat with him one day during his hospice time and we talked. I was talking about something and he said these three words: “Integrity, Integrity, Integrity”. And if I was to sum up my dad’s life in three words, I could easily say “integrity, integrity, integrity”. He did the right thing whether everyone was watching or no one was watching. That’s just who he was. People at Exxon lovingly and respectfully called him “Preacher” because he was a man of integrity. And he instilled that in Joey and I from a young age. My brother and I are who we are today because of his influence on our lives and his constant teaching and showing us that doing the right thing is the most important thing.


Things My Dad Taught me

By Joey

My dad taught me so many things growing up…things like how to change a tire, how to drive, how to fish, and most recently- how to fix pretty much anything by watching YouTube videos. I remember a few months ago how proud he was of me when I called him to let him know that I had fixed my broken washing machine for 7 dollars and a YouTube video. I’m pretty sure he was more happy that he didn’t have to drive across town to come fix it himself.

My dad also taught me to be a servant even when no one was looking. My dad wasn’t a fan of the spotlight. He would prefer to do things in the background and not get the credit. He was the type to get to church hours before it started to help set up everything. He’d then stay after to pick up trash and you’d never even know he had been there. He was always uncomfortable when someone would do things for him, but he would jump at the opportunity to help someone else, even if it meant he had to sacrifice.  He truly lived the life of putting God first, everyone else second, and himself last.

My dad taught me to have a good work ethic and to have integrity in anything I do. He taught me to not be lazy, and to go above and beyond what is expected, even when it’s difficult. Growing up, there were seasons where he would work 16 hour days for months at a time. Often, as soon as he’d get home, they’d call him back into work. He did it to pay bills, pay for college, and put food on the table. He never complained once, even when he was stressed and completely exhausted. As a child and teen, I didn’t truly grasp the sacrifice he was enduring for the family, but now that I’m a father myself, I understand what he went through and couldn’t be more grateful.

My dad taught me the importance of being there for your family. I remember one time when I was 18, I drove with my cousin to spend the day at Astroworld. As we were about to leave, my car wouldn’t start, so I was forced to call my dad at work from a pay phone to ask for help. When I told him the situation, he didn’t hesitate, he dropped everything and said he’d be there in an hour. He left work, drove from Baytown to the other side of Houston with all of his car tools and jumper cables ready to attempt to get my car running again. When he finally got there, before he took out any tool, he asked me a question that I’ll never forget…he said…”I know it’s a dumb question, but is your car in ‘park’?  I looked down and I saw that I had turned off my car while it was still in ‘drive’….In embarrassment I put it in ‘park’ and it started right up. I just knew my dad was going to be furious with me for making him leave work and drive 2 hours round trip for nothing…but instead, he laughed all the way home and never chastised me one time, even with the inconvenience I’d caused him. That’s the type of dad he was. When it came to one of us needing him, he never said he was too busy and we could always count on him being there.

And finally, my dad taught me the importance of forgiveness and letting things go. Life is too short to sweat the little things when time on this earth is temporary.

Love.

 

Love.

Sometimes it’s romantic.

Sometimes it’s friendship.

Sometimes it’s laughter.

Sometimes it’s a companion for tears.

Sometimes it’s easy.

Sometimes it’s difficult.

Sometimes it’s coffee shops and shopping malls.

Sometimes it’s late night conversations.

Sometimes it’s rejoicing in the good.

Sometimes it’s walking with someone through the bad.

Sometimes it’s Instagram.

Sometimes it’s private.

Sometimes it’s “because”.

Sometimes it’s “in spite of”.

Love.

It’s holding hands. It’s inside jokes. It’s girls’ nights. It’s date nights. It’s opening up your heart. It’s friendship. It’s companionship. It’s knowing that you aren’t alone in this crazy world.

Love.

It’s talking with someone as they contemplate suicide, trying to get them the help that they need. It’s walking with someone as they go through a difficult time in their life. It’s being available even when it’s not convenient. It’s speaking truth to someone even when they don’t want to hear it. It’s accountability and vulnerability and everything in between.

Love.

It’s beautiful. It’s messy.

But you know what else it is?

It’s worth it.

3 years of marriage.

January 1st, 2019 marks 3 of the best years of my life.

Reinier, do you remember when you flew across the world to see me and meet the rest of my (crazy) family?

What about the time that you rented a plane (thanks to your amazing pilot neighbor!) to ask me to be your wife?

I still have all of the postcards that you sent every week during our long distance engagement, counting down the weeks until we saw each other again.

You pursued me well.

But you know what I really remember? The “little” things. The everyday ways that you make life fun and make this journey of missions and parenting and everything in between a experience that I will never take for granted.

It’s the way you make my favorite meals or bring home a candy bar from the grocery store because you know I like my sweets.

It’s the race to get into the bed first at night so that the other person has to turn off the light.

It’s the evenings after a long day that we sit on the couch and watch our shows together.

It’s the way that you spend time with Joshua. No one can make him laugh like his daddy.

It’s the way you take care of the cars and the house and anything else that somehow gets broken along the way.

It’s the way you treat our parents.

It’s how you kiss me goodnight and good morning every day.

The list could go on and on.

But as I think about all of these “little” things, I realize that they aren’t so little after all.

I would trade a plane, flying across the world, and all of the postcards for just a moment, cuddled up on the couch with you.

Thank you for making the “little” things the big things. Thank you for pursuing me well before marriage, but also making me feel loved and cherished and even more pursued after we said “I do.”

I love you!

Your wife,

Kristen IMG_5129-2

 

 

Lessons From Joshua (Part One)

 

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So since my last blog (which has been a while…oops!), we have had a pretty big life-change.

Joshua Adin Vorster was born on July 9th and has stolen our hearts (and our sleep) since then! We are thankful for the opportunity to raise him. We know that it’s an honor to be his parents and we can’t wait to see him grow. (Just be aware that most of my Facebook posts and Instagram pics will probably be of him now. He is cuter than the rest of us anyways. ha!) 

So in saying that, this is also my first (probably of many) “Lessons from Joshua” posts… I hope you enjoy!

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One thing about this little guy is that he lets us know when he wants something.

Need a bottle? He cries. 

A diaper change? Bring on the tears.

Been in the car seat too long? Yep…you guessed it. He’s letting the whole car know that he isn’t happy!

But the sweetest cry? It’s when he just wants to be held. It makes this mama’s heart smile when he just leans his head on mine or Reiner’s chest and just finds contentment. He isn’t asking for anything. He just wants to be near us.

And during these moments, my thoughts go to our Heavenly Father. There are times when we are like Joshua and we cry out to Him, telling Him our needs and asking that He provide for us. And in those moments, He is there to comfort us and give us what He knows that we need. He is good!

But how much does His heart smile when we come to Him, not because we need anything, but because we just want to be held? Those moments when we don’t come to Him with any requests except for one:

I just want to be with You. 

And in that moment, everything else around us fades away. Our problems don’t seem so big. Our priorities are put in place. And we can rest in His love, knowing that we are secure in Him. It’s oh-so beautiful.

So my challenge for all of us, myself included, is that we find times to rest in His love. Go to your Father-God, not with a long list of things that He can do, but with a desire to just be with Him.

And just like Joshua, we can find rest.

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P.S. Thanks to Debbie Click for taking these cute pics. She captured his personality perfectly. 🙂

 

 

Like An Arrow

So I think that it is safe to say that this baby has been on my mind a lot the last few months! It’s an exciting time of preparation and of expectancy… and questions. Lots and lots of questions.

Boy or girl?

Will he/she be a redhead?

What will this child sound like? (I mean, he/she has a Texan mom, a South African dad, and lives in Madagascar. The accent will have to be unusual!)

These are the basic questions, but there are also a lot of deeper questions. Not just about the baby, but about me.

 Am I really ready to parent this child?

What if those “motherly instincts” don’t just kick in like everyone says they do?

What about… (insert  more questions here)?

But y’all, God is so good. Every time these questions and worries start showing their ugly heads, the Lord reminds me of this scripture:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3

He has given us everything that we need to live a Godly life. This verse has been so reassuring for the past few months. He has given it to me. I just get to reap the benefits!

And as my questions transfer away from me and onto this child that God has given Reinier and I, I am reminded about the story of David. I am currently in a Bible Study where we are going over this story, but I’ve always looked at it from a different angle than the study shows.

Basically, David realizes that he is living in a “palace of cedar while the ark of God remains in a tent” (2 Samuel 7:2).  He wants to build something greater for the presence of God. God then responds that it isn’t his responsibility and that He will actually build David a house!

But the part that has always been in my mind is in 2 Samuel 7:12-13. God says that he will raise David up an offspring and it’s his son that will build a house for Him.

God was calling His son to do what the father was not called to.

Psalm 127: 4 says, “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.”

You see an arrow goes further than the one releasing it. If the arrow stays in the pouch, it hasn’t fulfilled its purpose. If the arrow falls to the ground next to the warrior, it hasn’t done what it was destined to do.

An arrow fulfills its purpose when it goes further than the one releasing it. The arrow does what it is destined to do by being released from the hands of the warrior into the direction of the enemy.

My prayer as I begin this parenting journey is that I prepare my child for the life of Godliness, but that I’m also brave enough to release the child into the will of God. When that time comes, I want him/her to do more than what I was ever called to. I want him/her to go further than I ever will. I want to see God instill a fresh vision for the ministry. I want to pray for this child, encourage this child, and then sit back and watch how God uses him/her to fulfill His will.

And guess what? 2 Peter 1:3 will apply to “Baby Vorster” as well. God will give this child EVERYTHING he/she needs for life and Godliness.

Thank you Jesus.

-Kristen

P.S. Here is a cute picture of our little one. Baby V has grown a lot since this photo, but who doesn’t love showing off pics of their kid? 😉

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To Kimberly Patrice Evans

Kimberly Patrice Evans- my first niece. Today is your second birthday! A lot has happened in your little life in these two years. And I know that this coming year will be even bigger and better for you.

I know that I’m not with you on your birthday and I know that this letter isn’t something that you will understand now, but in a few years, I hope this letter becomes special to you. Why? Because you are oh so special to me!

I remember praying for you long before you were born. You were an answer to a lot of prayers! And God knew exactly what He was doing when He made you.

I remember hearing about when your mom was pregnant. It was over Skype. It took your Oom Reinier a few seconds to realize what was said!

I remember getting told (over skype yet again) that you were a girl. That dress that was picked out for you before you were born would be on you before you knew it!

I remember seeing you for the first time. You looked so much like your Pops! (Thankfully you have changed since that first day. 😉)

I remember getting to hold you for the first time and you were the smallest, sweetest thing. I was so glad that I got to be in the States for your birth!

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I know that I won’t be with you the majority of your life, but know that no matter how far we are, your Aunt Kristen and Oom Reinier love you so much! You have been the hardest part of being on the mission-field. I am missing you growing up, but my hope is that you follow God’s plans for your life as well, no matter what it is.

Because Kimberly, He has such big plans for you! You might not understand it now, but He loves you so much. He loves you even more than anyone on earth ever could. My prayer for you is that you will know this love and that you will trust Him with every part of your life.

As you grow older, you will have so many pressures and expectations put on you by the world. But sweet girl, you are who God made you to be. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.  Be a light in the darkness. Shine for Jesus every day. Let His love radiate through you.

Stay pure. Stay humble. And stay focused on Jesus.

And when you are older and it’s time to get married, don’t rush into your own plan. Don’t settle for anyone less than the person that God has for you. The right man will love God more than He loves you. But it is because of his relationship with God that your relationship with each other will be wonderful. He will be one that you can submit to, because He has submitted to the Lord. You are worth it!

My favorite verse is Ephesians 3:20. It says, “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…” Kimberly, He has the “immeasurably more” for your life and I can’t wait to see His plan come alive through you!

Like I said, I know this letter will mean nothing to your little two-year old self, so for now, enjoy your Daniel Tiger, gives lots of hugs and kisses to your “mama” and your “dada”, and make sure that your mom keeps sending me cute videos and pictures of you. It means more to me than you know.

I love you Kimberly!

Aunt Kristen

Trust.

I wrote this blog a few days ago, but our wifi hasn’t been on my side. I can say that since I wrote this, I have seen God do some big things in a situation. You can trust Him! 

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Trust.

I feel like that is the word that is playing in my mind and heart a lot lately.

As I pray for the church. Trust Him.

As I ask God to provide the finances that we need. Trust Him.

As I present our desires to the Lord. Trust Him.

As I pray for those who are struggling in their walk with God. Trust Him.

What about you? Will you trust Him?

Even when His timing doesn’t line up with yours. Even when a relationship ends. Even when the bank account seems low and the bills keep piling in. Even when everyone else’s life looks better than yours. Even when… Even when…

As I was in the middle of typing this, a notification popped up on my phone… guess what it said?

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25.

There is that word again. Trust.

I love how God provides us with little reminders throughout our day. He is constantly leading us to better things. We might have to go through hard times. We might not see things play out the way that we want them to. But He is still good. He is still faithful. He is still sovereign.

We can trust Him.

In The Midst of the Mundane

So this blog will be short and sweet… I hope that it encourages you!

A few nights ago we had people over to our house for dinner. Reiner cooked (You are welcome family who came over. Him cooking means I didn’t… 😉) , so it was my job to do the dishes. And that is where my story begins…

I started washing the dishes and put on some worship music. As I was scrubbing and singing along, I just felt the presence of God. It was such a sweet time.

It was a good reminder that God desires to be included in the seemingly mundane tasks of our day.

When you are cleaning up your toddlers play room for the fifteenth time that hour.

When you are stuck in traffic coming home from work.

When the dishes are piled up and the laundry seems to be never ending.

While you wait in line at the grocery store.

While you sit in your cubicle at work.

While you sit and wait for your students to finish an assignment.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, God is there.

And that makes even the most boring tasks (like scrubbing apple pie off of the dessert plates) a sacred moment.

Don’t miss it.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

It’s Not Mine

So I have been very quiet on this blog! Life gets busy and writing takes a backseat, but I’m going to TRYYYYYY to be better, I promise. 😉

I don’t have many super deep thoughts to give to my loyal readers…ummm…reader… (Hi mom!), but I do want to share a quick testimony of God’s faithfulness.

As you know, Reiner and I took over as Pastors of Living Word a little over a year ago. We love it. It’s been a stretch, but one in a good direction. I love seeing him grow in the calling that God has for his life. I’m a proud wife. 😊

But just a little background info: Our church is located in a big orange building at a busy roundabout. We love the location and it’s perfect for us. We have rented out two floors, one for the adults and one for the kids. The only downside to this is the cost. Rent in town is more expensive and our offerings do not cover even half of it. Thankfully Living Word-South Africa has been a great backing for us. But you can imagine, between the rent and other church expenses, it becomes quite a stretch sometimes. And when you are the Pastors, the financial responsibility ultimately falls on you.

There were several months in a row that we had to take out of our own pockets to pay the rent and other expenses for the church. We were thankful that God provided us the funds to be able to do it, but our bank account was also seeing the cut. We needed to make a decision and that was whether or not to keep the second floor, which is the kids church room. We gave it a deadline and said if something doesn’t happen, we’ll have to give it up.

As you know, the children’s pastor in me was REALLY trusting God for funds! About the time that we were making the decision, the kids church began to grow. We were at over 20 kids and the kids were really starting to warm up to this weird white lady that came and taught them every week. It was (and is) amazing!

So the deadline came and nothing had happened in the financial world, but thankfully I have a great Pastor who supports kids and his wife (who also REALLY loves those kids. 😉) We decided to take a step of faith and keep the floor. And not only that, we would have a fundraiser to be able to decorate the kids church, which is where the #MiniMadaMarket came into play for those of you on my FB friend list. 😊

At that time (and still today!), we had/have no idea how these funds for the rent will come in, but can I just share something cool? Since we made the decision a few months ago to keep the floor, we haven’t had to pay any extra into the church rent! I can honestly say that I don’t know how (in the physical sense) it has worked out the last few months, but when we have needed to pay the rent, it’s been there. God has just done His thing, and we get to reap the reward!

The other day, Reinier and I were talking about finances for the Wellness Center project. We had just gotten some bad news and it just wasn’t the best day in the world. But Reinier said this and it really got me thinking: “It’s God’s project so it’s His responsibility, not ours.”

Wow.

Yes, we work hard. Yes, we make sure that we are good stewards of what He has given us. Yes, we continue to do what we can do.  But in that process, we realize that it’s not really ours to begin with.

I don’t think it is any coincidence that the kids church started growing during the decision-making progress. I really believe that God wanted us to take the step of faith, continue to invest in those kids, and then let Him take the responsibility for how it all gets done.

And ultimately, that’s what we are called to do. Take the step of faith. If it’s His vision and His calling, it’s also His responsibility.

-Be blessed!

Kristen

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Our other “home” 🙂

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The view from our church building

The Inconvenient Detour

Hey guys! So I’m really excited to have my brother as a “Guest Blogger” today.  Get to the end. I promise you won’t regret it. I know it was something that I needed to hear! 🙂 Enjoy!

 

The Inconvenient Detour

Let me start off by saying, writing like this is not my thing. My sister is the one with the meaningful, thought-provoking blogs, so if you make it only 1/3rd through before returning back to your Facebook page to see your friend’s post about what he is having for lunch, I’ll completely understand. And please forgive any grammar or punctuation errors. I’ll just be happy if my sister-in-law with her masters in English can read half of this without punching her screen. ☺

With that disclaimer…

The Trip

A couple weeks ago I was fortunate enough to meet up with my sister Kristen, Brother-in-law Reinier, and my mom in South Africa for a 4 day safari. In the past, I’ve traveled to South Africa as a missions trip, but this time, it was just for pleasure and to spend some time with my sister and her husband who were visiting from their home in Madagascar. They only come to America once a year, so it was great to get to see them in person during the year instead of having to wait until their yearly voyage to the U.S around Christmas time. This trip was extra special because not only would I get to spend quality time with my family, but our safari was going to be in Kruger Park. Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in South Africa (about 7500 sq miles) and is one of the coolest places on earth. It’s one of the few places that you can take your own car, travel at your own pace, and see exotic animals up close without a cage in their natural habitat. You can drive for hours, and even when you’ve been down the same dirt road before, it’s always a new adventure because there is always the possibility to see something you haven’t seen before. It’s not like the private game reserves around the area where people own the land and are more like a huge zoo. This land is purely the “wild”. It only has a few entrances into the park and unless you are staying at a camp within the park, you have to be out by a certain time. I have been on South African safaris before, but this was the first time it truly was the wild, so this was definitely something on my bucket list.

There are a few rules that you have to abide by while in Kruger. The most important rule is that you can never get out of your car. The only exceptions would be is if you are inside a gated camp site, or at a place designated by a sign that said you could get out at your own risk (like a lookout point). You can also be outside of a vehicle If you were with a group and armed guide during a “walking safari”. Another big rule is that you had to be back at your camp ground or out of the park by 5:30 pm (unless you were on a night safari with an armed guide). During this time of the year, this is when the sun starts to go down and the predators start to become active. There are no street lights anywhere, so being out after dark could be very dangerous especially if you were to get lost. Also, the speed limit is strictly enforced. Animals walk out in front of vehicles frequently, so it’s safe to say you wouldn’t want to be traveling at 40mph and hit an elephant straight on. The elephant might not notice “the bump” but your car might. You also wouldn’t want to be flying down the road and run over some small endangered animal crossing the road at the wrong time.

So that brings me to the actual events of one particular night…

It was Thursday evening, the last night before my mom and I headed back to the U.S. It was around 4pm and we were just hanging around our camp house resting after a long day of driving. Reinier had suggested going out one last time before the camp gate was shut at 5:30 for one last chance at seeing the animals that had eluded us the days before. We finally decided that just the 2 of us would go out, and give my mom and my sis some final mom-daughter bonding time before the end of our trip.

Reinier and I then headed out to explore the long single road that lead into the camp before making a u-turn and heading back. It was about 5:15pm and we were about 5 minutes from the camp entrance when a van coming from the opposite direction slowed down, and rolled down the window to tell us that an elephant had pushed over a tree blocking the road into the camp. He said there was no way to get around the barrier and the only way to get back to the camp was to go back down the long single road, take a huge loop detour around the park to the only other entrance to the road, and approach the camp site from opposite end. The only problem with that plan was that it was 10 min before the camp gates closed, and there was no cellphone service to call my mom and my sister what had happened. Reinier estimated the detour to be around 1-2 hours going the speed limit.

This definitely wasn’t what we had planned and it was frustrating that we had no way of contacting our family to let them know of the situation. All they would know is that the gate closes at 5:30 and we are nowhere to be found. No one else would have known about the tree in the middle of the road, and it’s not like they have a road maintenance crew that gets called out in the middle of the night to clean up issues like this. Not sure I would want to be in the middle of the dark, hacking at a tree with an axe and flashlight while a leopard is nearby scouting out his next snack. For the situation, we had no other choice but to go the long way around, and pray we weren’t pulled over by the game reserve guards for being out after curfew. The car that had warned us said we could follow them around to the other side, so we quickly made a u-turn and got in line behind the 2 cars.

The sun was going down quickly and as the pitch black approached, we determined the 2 cars in front of us were completely disregarding the speed limit. They were flying! We had no choice but to keep in line with the caravan so we didn’t get lost, which meant we also had to go super-fast down the twisting and turning dirt roads, and up and down huge hills wrapping around mini-mountains. Now earlier that day, while driving at a snail’s pace, we had at least 20 elephants, 4-5 Rhino, Buffalo, and countless Impala and other deer-like animals all cross the road in right in front of us. Some would just be standing in the road, and others would dart across the road so we’d have to hit the brake. Going 30-40 miles an hour in completely dark is not the ideal thing to do when you can’t see around the corner and animals bigger than our car tend to chill in the middle of the street. Needless to say, we had our prayers working the whole way. I think it was half fear, and half excitement that kept us going so fast, even though we knew all it would take was one animal to ruin our trip and Reinier’s borrowed car.

After about an hour of driving, and us nearing the needed camp road turn off, the 2 cars in front of us screeched to a sudden stop. As we slammed on our break in turn, we looked up to see the head of a massive male lion poking out of the bushes right next to the road. Lion sightings aren’t exactly rare, but to see one up close like this didn’t happen all the time. When lion sightings happen during the day, it’s usually via binoculars and you have to jockey for position with 20 other cars trying to get a small glimpse of the lion sleeping off in the distance in the bushes.

The other cars paused for a minute to take in the cool view, then slowly pulled forward to complete the journey back to the camp grounds. After Reinier and I had completed our excited “WHOOHOO’s” at just the chance to see the top of a lion’s head that close, we started to pull forward… and then the unexpected happened. The massive cat arose from his resting spot and calmly proceeded to walk across the road, just inches from the front of our car. He looked right at us as he casually passed by and entered into the bushes on the opposite side of the road to disappear in the darkness. Wow, what a sight! I had seen lions before, but never one so close. Reinier and I suddenly included a series of high fives with our excited “Whoohoo’s!.” In that moment, all of the frustration of the situation that existed just minutes before was no longer there and we were more anxious to get back to the camp site to tell the family of the sighting rather than the inconvenience of the detour.

Once we got back to the camp, the gate was opened for us, and soon discovered that my sister and my mom had found out what happened from the campsite guards and were patiently waiting our return. We readily told them of all that occurred and how we just happened to be at the right place at the right time to catch such a great view of the huge cat.

When the excitement slowed down and the night concluded, as I lay in bed still on a high from the night’s adventure, I felt this thought of “was that sighting really a coincidence?” What are the odds that we would be on that very road, at that very time after curfew, and what are the odds that the lion would wait until OUR car pulled up for it to rise and pass right in front of us? I guess anything is possible, however it did get me thinking.

At the beginning of the evening, the tree in the middle of the road was a huge inconvenience. No one likes it when you are going down the road, almost to your destination and there is a sign that says “Road closed,” with signs pointing to the long way around. We didn’t like the fact that we had to drive an extra hour without being able to tell our family what was going on. We also didn’t like the fact we had to put our lives in danger by speeding down twisting and turning roads not knowing what danger could lie around the corner.

But by the end of the night, our frustrating inconvenience turned into one of the top highlights of our entire trip. We would have been perfectly fine getting to the camp site on time that night and would have still enjoyed our time that evening. We wouldn’t have known what we missed, and life would have gone on happily. But… if you would have given me the option up front to choose taking an hour detour to see a lion up close, vs getting the camp site on time, I would have GLADLY chosen the detour.

I guess that’s when the realization hit. How many times have I had an inconvenience in my life that turned out to be something much better than what I had planned originally? Either I prayed for something or expected something to happen in a certain way and then all of a sudden, the plan changed. An elephant knocked down a tree in my path and I was forced to head in a different direction completely out of my way. When things don’t go as planned, my initial reaction is frustration and the need to vent to God, usually with attitude that it’s His fault and why would He let something like this happen to me. I tend not to pause and consider that this all may be part of a bigger plan that includes a happier ending than what my initial prayers were for. And then when I look back on the situation, I would have gladly chosen the inconvenience to get the final reward. The funny part is that these inconveniences tend to happen pretty frequently and when God does present a better result than my original prayer, it doesn’t stop me from getting any less frustrated the next time an inconvenience comes my way.

This is one of my family’s favorite verses. It just never occurred to me that in order for God to give “better” prayer results, sometimes we HAVE to be inconvenienced…

Ephesians 3:20
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 hopefully the next time I’m “inconvenienced”, I won’t be so quick to be frustrated, but rather thank God up front for what he is shielding me from, or what better victory He has in store for me.

Maybe this thought was just for me, but just figured I’d share it in case anyone else has had an elephant block their path recently.

For those going through a struggle, just remember….behind every blocked road, there could be a the victory of the lion waiting.

My reminder…

lionphotojoey