The summer after my senior year of high school I attended an out-of-state conference with my youth group. We signed up for a large outdoor weekend event in Arizona and piled into a bus for our road trip. I had been praying and preparing for this conference; I was excited to go and see what God had in store for all of us.
My bestie and I were looking forward to going together, we had talked it up quite a bit and even made sure we had coordinating outfits (and matching big 80’s hair). This was our last big high school hoorah.
As we were getting close to the venue our group stopped at a gas station to fuel up, grab some food, etc. I remember this stop more clearly than I remember anything on that trip. While I was perusing the snacks, I felt God leading me to buy a small purse pack of tissues. I remember taking pause; it was as if it was just me and God in that little store and He so clearly made it known that I needed to make that purchase.
I made sure I had the Kleenex with me as we approached the venue. I had no idea what it was for but I knew it was important.
When we arrived, we headed straight to the large outdoor seating area. It was a bit of a haul and I remember how excruciatingly hot it was that afternoon. The conference kicked off with worship; it was a beautiful orchestration of the band and the sea of voices under the warm Arizona sun. My eyes were closed and I was all in. But then, something caught my attention. There was a bit of commotion in the seats directly in front of me so I opened my eyes to see a young man profusely bleeding from his nose. “Does anyone have any Kleenex?” someone frantically yelled out.
“I do,” I said. I reached into my bag and handed them the small packet I had purchased. They ripped into it and used every last one.
As I started worshipping again, I broke down in tears. This was, perhaps, the first time I had heard from God in that way and I knew that this was the kind of relationship we would have from that point on. I knew that if I listened, he would speak to me. Or more accurately, that He would speak to me and I could choose to listen. Things changed for me that day.
My faith would be greatly challenged later in life when I would walk through a very difficult season as an adult. During that time God did something really special, something to remind me of His goodness in my life.
My youngest son joined a soccer league when he was seven, around the same time of my divorce. This was a time of extreme insecurity for me; sometimes I would show up to a game and see my former husband or his family members and it was all I could do to hold it together. I clung to God during this season, He was my lifeline. And He was kind and generous in His love for me, He provided for my needs by showing me the way. And at this particular game, He wanted to remind me that He was there with me.
I heard His gentle, quiet voice in my heart that day, the same one that had spoken to me on that road trip in high school so many years ago. In fact, it was the same message. So before I left my house, I grabbed a purse pack of Kleenex and put it in my bag.
And then it happened, just like it had in the summer of 1989.
The game was well under way and we were all on the sidelines cheering for our little soccer stars. All of a sudden, right in front of me, one of the players got a gusher of a bloody nose. “Does anyone have any Kleenex?” the coach hollered out. “I do,” I said.
To put into words what I was feeling at that point is rather difficult for me. There was so much God was saying to me in that moment but I think I can sum it up as this, “Cristine, I love you. I am still here for you, just as I was 25 years ago. I still speak to you. I still value you. I still have things for you to do on this earth. Today was a practice run.”
I walked back to my car that day, tears streaming down my face, just as they had on that hot summer day between high school and college. In the midst of everything I was going through, God was there. He was winking at me. He was reminding me that I was His daughter and He still had a plan for my life.
He was getting me ready for a challenging season, making sure I was tuned into His voice as He directed my path. He was faithful; not only did He not leave my side, but He was also extremely gracious and kind. Little did I know that He was preparing me for some difficult days ahead, including the day I would receive a card in the mail that would change everything.
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