If you follow me on Instagram and tune into my stories, then you may have heard some about this little story I will be sharing today. If you did, then I know it may seem like “Okay Rachel, why are you still talking about this?!” haha. But if you missed it, I hope reading this story today encourages your heart. I told this story on Instagram the day it happened to me, but since then, I have not only found a verse that spoke to my heart through this, but have also bridged some connections together. I am just so very grateful for the ways the Lord has opened my eyes through this. And one last thing before I get started, I decided to put all of this into a post because one, this is a way for me to document it (almost as a journal entry), two, maybe encourage your heart today as well and lastly, share these connections I’ve made through the entire experience.
Hi friends and happy Wednesday! I am really excited to be sharing this post with y’all today. I actually wrote this post roughly three weeks ago. I have no idea why it’s taken me so log to share it, but here it is!
Back on December 2nd, I was summoned to jury duty. Now to be honest, I was absolutely dreading it!!! It had been a burden on my back ever since I received the notice in the mail weeks prior. I prayed and prayed that maybe I could find a way to not have to go. I have to also add that this was my fourth time being summoned since I had Madeline! FOURTH! That’s just crazy to me because so many I had spoken with had never once received a jury summons in all their years. After telling the story over on my Instagram, several messaged me saying I could have gotten out of it since I’m the parent/primary caregiver of a child under a certain age. Yes this is true, but that is how I was excused the first two times I was summoned. And when I put it down for a third time, I received a not-so-pleasant phone call telling me that they would excuse me one last time for this reason but the next time I would have no way of being excused and must serve. Well, sure enough I received this fourth summons and had no way of being excused.
Yes, I know it’s my civil duty to serve. I know if it were my loved-one in that courtroom, I would hope that individuals would be kind enough to show up and serve on the jury. I also recently saw something on our local news about a gentleman not showing up for jury duty after being selected for the panel and was arrested (yikes!). So I knew it was serious business.
I know y’all are probably like “okay Rachel why are you going on and on about being summoned to jury duty? We get the point!” But I have to tell this little back story in order to even barely put into words the meaning of what all happened that day. So back to jury duty, the weeks and days leading up, I was so very burdened about having to serve. It has been quite the past few months with so much going on. With family members, some other big things going on behind the scenes, all of that leading me to feeling like I’m just falling behind, not doing a good enough job and just weary, to be honest. Then with all of that stress comes the everyday questioning myself of if I’m being the best mama I can be for Madeline, etc. I feel like my brain has been in a thousand places at once for quite some time now, and all I could do was say of all the individuals they could have chosen, why did they pick me?! On top of the things going on behind the scenes, the week of December 2nd was going to be such a busy week! I know they state that you need to clear your schedule of all responsibilities to be able to serve the week you’re summoned, but it was kind of impossible. I had collaborations I had already signed and agreed to do for that week, being the prime holiday season (Cyber Monday to be exact haha), I had so much work and things to share that day, We were heading out of town the end of that week and Madeline was sick to top it off (the night before I had to show up, she couldn’t sleep due to not feeling well and I ended up getting three or so hours of sleep). Not to mention, how do you “clear your schedule” of being a (single) mom?! So I woke up that Monday morning I had to show up feeling weary, overwhelmed, and quite honestly pretty bitter over the fact that I had to go. It was that feeling of being angry because I was being MADE to do something I didn’t want to do. And on top of all this, I just do not like the courthouse environment. I won’t go into detail, but to say the least, my heart wants to put up a wall towards all of that. SO, all of this to say, I showed up that morning to serve feeling angry. I couldn’t help but be mad. With everything going on I just didn’t understand why the Lord was making do this. I had told myself, “there is absolutely nothing good that could come out of me having to show up that day.” But goodness, did the Lord prove me wrong! It was like he said, “you just wait and see Rachel”.
I have this distinct memory from a ways back of walking up to the courthouse steps feeling uneasy. It’s kind of funny because I had that exact same feeling in my stomach when arriving that day for jury duty. A flat out feeling of uneasiness, a lump in my throat. I had just hung up the phone with my mom, checking in on Madeline from not feeling well, also telling her that I was walking in and silencing my phone. About that same second, I heard a sweet lady (also on the phone) telling (what I later found out was her husband) that she had arrived safely, she was walking in, silencing her phone, etc. After hearing her talk (because her voice had such a sweet, calming tone to it), I couldn’t help but turn around to see who this individual was. Sure enough, she was decked out in leopard print! And when I say decked out, I mean covered! I think I finally met someone who loves leopard print more than I do. She had a leopard jacket, earmuffs, phone case, shoes, wallet, etc. So of course that love for leopard + the sweet, calming tone to her voice made it to where I couldn’t help but strike up a conversation! It was like a magnet haha. I couldn’t help but speak to her. After complimenting all her leopard, I said “Are you heading in for jury duty as well?” And that’s all it took for us to end up sitting together and chatting for the next two hours. I still think back to that memory I have of arriving at the courthouse steps but this time, arriving there with a sweet soul to accompany me. She said she was also there for jury duty and it was her first time serving in Georgia!
It’s funny how we can start to play out scenarios in our head before they even happen. It’s something I’m always trying to get better at, but it can be quite difficult at times. Again, I was feeling so bitter about all of this, especially driving there that morning. I told myself in the car that when I got there, I was going to make known that I did not want to be there haha! Which is so unlike me. I’m all about giving smiles, showing kindness always, trying to uplift others, etc. But this morning my feelings got the best of me, and I all of the sudden forgot that yes, there would be other individuals I’d be showing this attitude to, and it’s not even their fault that I’m having to be there that day! I had told myself that while walking through security, I would NOT smile and just be a grouch lol. BUT, this sweet lady I had met quickly turned this around for me. We walked up those (dreaded) steps together, walked through security together. And the pure joy in her voice, the kindness she showed to everyone working there getting us securely checked in, even the jury clerks in the jury duty room, she gave them each the biggest smile, told them she hoped they were having a blessed day. etc. And seeing her attitude made me feel so silly for planning out how I would act before even arriving there that day. Her attitude also reminded me to let go of that grudge and greet those individuals in the same way. Even though she wasn’t exactly crazy about being there as well, her kind, thankful, joyful heart had impacted me as well, and for that I’m so grateful! Also such a powerful reminder of how a kind, grateful, joyful heart has the ability to impact others in such a strong way. So just as my silliness of planning out my walking into the courthouse that day to be a grump, the Lord was like not so fast missy!
SO fast forward, after getting checked in, we ended up sitting together and talking with one another for two whole hours. Of course we talked about our love for leopard print haha. What was so funny is that she was even wearing one of the leopard shirts I have from Amazon! She told me a lot about her life, how she moved to Georgia with her husband just a few years back after living in one place for years and years. How she was a school bus driver for 30+ years, how she was 60+ years old, about her 24 grandkids, and what sticks out to me that most, her dreams of one day owning an ice cream truck! Which that dream was going to come true for her spring 2020! Her husband had just bought her a truck, and it was even decked out with leopard paw prints. Thinking back on her story and the things she was telling me, I can’t help but smile and just be in awe of having the opportunity to talk with her that day. She asked me some about my life. I told her all about Madeline, that I was a single mom, about my business and more. Then we both shared how being there that day wasn’t the most pleasant place for either of us. But what stood out to me the most was her heart for Jesus! It was then that she started to share some with me and I with her. She even told me how she never leaves her home without bringing her devotional with her, and I showed her how I had mine with me that day as well. We shared our devotional reading for that day with each other. And goodness it was such a blessing. From her love for leopard print to her joyful, kind heart that was just overflowing with the love of Jesus. It was such a special experience that I will never forget.
Just as I was feeling so bitter and dreading that day, playing out all the scenarios in my head, the Lord was like hold up! Just you wait and see what I’m going to do for you when you go there. I’m going to send someone, you have no idea about, to be with you. And there she was! This sweet soul and how we could bond over our love for some leopard print and Jesus haha 🙂
I also couldn’t help but think about how fast paced our lives are. What a neat experience it was to be able to just sit down and talk with someone I had no idea about. How I got to know her heart. It took me being (basically shut up haha) in a jury duty holding room with nothing to do but talk to someone, to have this opportunity to get to know a stranger. And how many opportunities like that surround us if we could only just slow down to see them. To get to know other beautiful souls like the one of this lady I met that day. I wish so badly I could have gotten her last name, her phone number, someway to be able to contact her again. Just to let her know what a blessing she was to me and my heart that day. All I know to do it pray for her and pray that maybe we will cross paths again someday. But y’all better believe come summer 2020, Madeline and I will be on the lookout for this precious lady and her adorable ice cream truck 🙂
As I mentioned, I got on IG stories the night I had been to jury duty. But the day after, I started to unpack this whole thing. And again, I know y’all may be saying, “okay Rachel, we get it! How much more could you possibly have to say about this?” haha! But as I was reading my devotional the next day on December 3rd, something hit me! I started to bridge together all these connections of how the Lord worked in my life that day before. How he showed me that he is always with me! How he worked in a mysterious way. How he used detail to catch my attention. And how he laid a verse on my heart that made me realize it was all from him! Let me share a little more 🙂
God is with us
The first takeaway I realized after this whole experience happened was how God is always with us! Not just in the good times, the bad times, the easy times, etc. He’s with us ALL. THE. TIME. Just as I had this entire scenario played out in my head, before I even arrived to the courthouse, I tricked myself into thinking absolutely nothing good could come of this (something how toxic thinking in that way can be, as the devil uses it to steal our joy). But just like that, the Lord showed me it could. He knew my heart, my anxieties, the way I was worried about leaving Madeline sick, the obligations I had on my list that week and more (Psalm 139:2-3). He knew I was burdened. He knew my feelings on being back there that day weren’t exactly the most joyous ones. And just like that, he sent this sweet lady to be by my side. To walk with me (literally). To remind me of how our attitudes need to be an outward display of Christ’s joy and love. To help me remember I wasn’t alone.
God’s Timing is Perfect
Again, I didn’t realize this until the next day, but y’all, I am still in awe and brought to tears with thinking on this! I mentioned earlier in this post my a vivid memory of walking up the courthouse steps into the main entrance. How it left a not-so-pleasant feeling, a knot in my stomach, a weight on my shoulders. Well y’all! I was thinking back on this, and believe it or not, the second I began talking to this precious individual was the very moment I was stepping up onto the first courthouse step. I had dreaded walking up those steps, walking through security then not knowing where on earth to go in that huge building. And in all honesty, I don’t remember any of this one bit. As I was talking with this sweet lady, noticing all her leopard print pieces (haha!), realizing her display of Christ’s love, I didn’t pay one bit of attention to the steps, the security gates, and she even showed me where we needed to go. I am still brought to tears on this as it is such a display of God’s love. Even when we are not the easiest to love. I was arriving that day with such a grudge in my heart, yet the Lord wrapped me in his loving arms. I truly believe that the Lord directs our paths, and he directed me at that perfect time, as I was taking that very step, to strike up a conversation with this lady and distract me from my feelings. His timing is perfect!
My next takeaway was from Isaiah 45 verse 3. I was thinking on the whole experience, and it was like the Lord brought this verse into my heart. I haven’t really thought on this one very much, nor have I heard many quote it. But goodness is there power behind it! It is the verse Madeline and I have started learning, and as I was sharing it with my mom, she reminded me of how this verse was brought out in one of our favorite books, Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On, by Stormie OMartian. That evening, I opened up the chapter in this book and what was so special was to re-read how Stormie applied this verse in the very same way I was applying it to what had occurred the day before. Since this book truly applies it in the perfect way, I thought I’d just quote some from the book:
“God wants you to be so convinced of His presence in your life that even when you can’t feel it, sense it or see it, you know He is there.” “We’re in the dark until we see His light in it. He wants us to reach out for Him so we can walk together in the same direction.” And in the darkness “there are treasures to be found there.” “The treasure we find in the darkness is Him.” And “God will use these situations to increase our knowledge of Him.””His presence and His light are there for those who open their eyes to see it.” All wise words by Stormie Omartian.
But to bring all of this to meaning, this verse was so on point with what happened to me that day. Even though my anxiety for that day seemed to be blocking my thoughts of his presence, he showed me His light in it, and I was quickly reminded how he was right there with me. And through this, he showed me a hidden treasure, this sweet lady, and through this treasure, I saw the Lord’s presence there. It most certainly increased my knowledge of him. And through this, I am certain that these “hidden treasures” lie in so many of the situations we face on a daily basis. I don’t know where they will always be. But I just know that I don’t want to miss them! And after this, I will most definitely be looking for them.
We Serve a God of Detail
And one more takeaway I want to share is that fact that we most definitely serve a God of detail! I mean just think about it! Look around you. Look at creation. Notice the amazing, intricate detail of everything around you. Not only does he know the number of stars but he also “calls them each by name“. His thoughts outnumber the grains of sand on the seashore. Think about the ocean. How it is just the perfect salt level to be able to inhabit the ocean life whithin. How amazing our bodies work! Each tiny cell. Every single process that goes on within our cells to all work together. The list could go on and on. But overall, I truly believe that we serve a God of detail. And it is in this exact manner of intricate detail that I believe he works in ways where we will know without a doubt He was working in our lives. Through this detail (even the littlest of things), it was from him!
Now this is going to sound crazy comparing the amazement of the ocean, our bodies, etc. to leopard print. But I can’t help but think about how this sweet lady was decked out in all her leopard print. Y’all know I love me some leopard haha, and as silly as this sounds, it’s like the Lord knew all her leopard print would catch my attention. That very detail. That was the first thing I noticed about her and what truly led us to chatting. So I can’t help but think that the details of what she was wearing that day were the Lord’s way of getting my attention, to notice her, to be comforted by her, and in the end, see how he looked after me in such a way.
I know this post has been ridiculously long. And if you made it to the end, I applaud you! I also want to mention that I know there are so many other (bigger) things going on in this world, much bigger than a little jury summons (trust me, I feel them going on in my life now!). But I also truly believe that the Lord allows us to go through such experiences, big or small, to prepare us for other experiences. And overall, experience his love and care for us.
Whether you are being faced with a scenario you are dreading, a place you have to go, a person you have to face, a much bigger circumstance that is weighing you down, no matter how dark the road may seem…I encourage y’all to look for the “hidden treasures”. Don’t fall into the darkness and stay there. Instead, look for your loving Savior’s hand in that darkness and you will find his presence. He will meet you there with hidden treasures. He will show you his presence, in his perfect timing, through even the tiniest details. And you will in turn see him. The hidden treasures are there. You just have to look for them 🙂
Thanks again for taking the time to read friends! Love you all so much!