A NOTE FROM ELIZABETH
God knows the plans He has for us – plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans which simultaneously are to serve others with the love of Christ, which causes them to know He is real and seek to make Him their Savior and Lord as well.
God does this when we are willing to listen to His instructions and obey every moment of every day.
In a recent devotion entitled, “Listening and Following God’s Voice is Transformational”, I wrote that life changes in extraordinary ways when we choose to take God at His word, believe He speaks to us, learn to recognize His voice and choose to follow where He leads, whether we understand His rationale at the moment or not. Once you begin listening and following where He leads, the instances where He guides, and as a result of your blind obedience to the seemingly illogical something remarkable occurs will become too numerous to record.
However, for those who are not as familiar with how this can work, perhaps it would be useful and encouraging to share a few of many recent examples of how this has worked out in my own life. Two follow.
Monday, September 12th is a good example. Once my husband was on his way to work, it was time to drive our teenage son to school. After dropping him off, the Lord laid on my heart to drive to our accountant’s office in Pleasanton to pick up an item which was waiting.
I asked the Lord which way to drive – surface streets or freeway. He nudged me to take the freeway. As I exited, approximately one block before the turn into the office complex where the CPA’s office was located, the Lord nudged me further to get a cup of coffee first at the little shopping center adjacent to the business park. I didn’t really want a cup of coffee. But I have learned to obey these promptings of the Holy Spirit, because God always has His reasons.
I made a righthand turn instead of the lefthand turn which would have taken me to the office building and steered into the shopping center parking lot. My eyes opened wide in amazement. There was someone I knew well standing next to his motorcycle in the middle of the parking lot. But he lived with his wife and daughter in Oakley over 45 minutes away. What was he doing here?
He and his wife are very dear to me. He is the Northern California leader of a volunteer organization that escorts troops from the airport when they come home on leave or at the end of deployement to honor them and they escort fallen warriors from the airport to the mortuary and then to the cemetery, when they are invited by the families to do so. Most of them ride their motorcyles (though cars are welcome too) with flags waving and leather jackets decorated with patches honoring and remembering those who serve and have served. Many of these men and women are veterans themselves and participate because they do not want this generation of military to be greeted when they come home the same way Vietnam veterans were 40 years ago. They have our current troops’ backs and ensure they receive the honor and acknowledgement they are due.
This gentleman had been one of the speakers for the evening program I had organized and MC’d in honor of Patriot Day 9-11-11 (remembering and paying tribute to those who died in the diabolical September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the USA and honoring troops who still serve as a result), which was part of a larger event at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton (just down the street) the day before.
This leader stood next to his motorcycle dressed in his black leather riding accessories chatting with several others from their organization. It looked as if they were staging for a mission. They were.
What were the odds that he would be here at this precise moment when the Lord had sent me on an errand in the exact same place? I knew immediately this was a God-appointment. There are no coincidences when we are serving God, only God-incidences.
I parked and sauntered over to the small group. He was as surprised to see me as I was him. We hugged and began to chat back and forth. He introduced me to the several others who were there. They were waiting for more to arrive. They had decided not to escort the Huey helicopter which they had brought to the 9-11-11 Never Forget Tribute event at the fairgrounds back to where it belonged until this morning because the visibility was too poor at night. The Huey was large. It could get tangled and in trouble easier if they attempted to move it at night, than during the day.
The others with him were a Vietnam veteran, his daughter and granddaughter. They were waiting for more to join them. As they talked the leader addressed the Vietnam vet by his first name and suddenly I had an inkling of why God had brought me there. Several weeks before the son of one of the motorcycle group’s members had committed suicide completely unexpectedly. The group had considered him one of their own and all been devastated by the loss, but none more that the young man’s father and family. This young man was a casualty of war, having lost not on the physical battlefield, but on the battlefield of the mind (as a result of war).
When I had heard the news I had wanted to reach out to the family, but had no connection to them and never desire to intrude (no matter how good my intentions). Now the young man’s father, sister and niece “happened” to be before me with the group leader. God had provided opportunity for me to personally express my sorrow at their loss, listen to whatever they wanted to say and offer them Gold Star gift bags and copies of Michael and Danielle Everett’s touching gift book, “Grief – Thoughts and Reflections”.
Whether they actually ever listened to the songs in the gift bags was moot to me. They may never listen to “STAND UP”, which was recorded to honor their loved one’s service, or the WALK ON WATER Cd, which included the worship song, “You Carry Me” composed and recorded especially for families of the fallen. At least they would know their son was remembered and one more person cared…
The father needed to talk for awhile. It was my privilege to listen. Soon I sensed my God-assignment was complete. It had been about 30 minutes. I needed to let these folks get back to their Huey Helicopter retrieval mission. More motorcyclists who were part of the group were arriving.
I walked over to the coffee shop to purchase the cup of coffee which had originally brought me into the parking lot for God’s appointment. The line was almost out the door. I decided it wasn’t worth the wait and I no longer felt God’s nudge to stay. I drove to the office building one block away where the CPA’s office was located. They were not yet open.
God was showing me the entire errand had been about the appointment He had set up. The idea of the cup of coffee and taking care of the paperwork pick up at the CPA’s were just His wy of getting me moving in His direction.
Another God-appointment Saturday, September 17th For months Pray California had been planning their September 17th PRAYER, WORSHIP and WARFARE Conference. For months I have been praying for it and asking the Holy Spirit whether or not I was to go. All week prior to the event the Holy Spirit kept whispering I was to go and that excited me. I believed so strongly in the importance of the conference and there would be so many like-minded Christian friends there as well as new contacts. In addition, there would be several in attendance with whom I was connected on FaceBook and finally would be able to meet.
My husband had the week prior off and once again a topic of discussion was the depressed real estate market and whether we should be taking advantage of it in some way. I spent several hours on the Internet Thursday and Friday looking again at several potential areas we were considering for relocation in case we decided to transition out of the suburbs east of the San Francisco Bay Area and into a location with more space (and potentially horses) where we could spend the next 30 years. (Hard to believe, but we have been in our current home for 28 years.)
One of the communities under consideration is an equestrian community just west of Placerville. We moved a lot when I was growing up, so I don’t really have a hometown. However, the place which comes closest is Placerville. It is the place I lived the longest (from the time I was an infant until I was 9 years old) and where my dearest childhood memories occured.
We had been watching properties in this community outside of Placerville for at least six months. It was time to see if this potential area was to stay on our list of candidates or be eliminated. As has often been the case, my husband and I discussed our priorities, then he sent me to go do the initial look and report back to him my findings.
Since I was going to Sacramento for the Pray California conference anyway, the Lord laid on my eart to leave early in order to arrive in Placerville around dawn, scout out several potential properties in the equestrian community, then head to the Sacramento conferenct. Friday night I discussed my plans for the next day with our eldest daughter. She decided to come along.
Saturday morning we departed home an hour later than we had hoped, leaving about 6:15am and drove straight to the equestrian community in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Because we had left in God’s timing and not our own, God set up an appointment with a 20 year community resident, who “happened” to drive by as we were viewing the first property. He had plenty of useful information to share.
Next God gave us more to explore in the community than we had expected, so touring took much longer than we had planned. Instead of arriving at the conference shortly after it had begun, we found ourselves finally approaching our destination closer to 11am.
I had looked forward to this event for so long and was thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce our daughter to some of the amazing people I knew would be in attendance. Yet now as we approached the parking lot, I wasn’t sure we were supposed to stay and go in. As we parked and I turned off the engine the feeling became stronger we were to turn around and begin the drive home immediately. This didn’t make sense and was NOT my will!
I pressed my forehead into the steering wheel and prayed. I prayed for discernment – to clearly know what God wanted. And I knew….we were not to stay. God had given us many little gifts during our time in the equestrian community, now He was asking me to give up attendance at the conference as a sacrifice. Our daughter and I sat in the car and prayed for all the conference attendees inside the building. Then sadly, mournfully, but obediently, I started the engine and we headed home.
I did not understand, but I didn’t need to. Over the years, God had taught me to trust and obey. This was all I could do at the moment.
As we got on the freeway, the Holy Spirit nudged me again to take an alternate freeway home – in other words to drive home a different way than we had come. My daughter and I prayed as we started down the way that since we couldn’t attend the conference, the Holy Spirit pour out with increase to take more ground for Christ and His values in our state wherever our wheels turned that day. Now by going home a different way, we would be covering more ground!
About 40 minutes down the road, we approached the city of Stockton. I remembered that at the first Stockton exit there was a shopping center with a very good fabric store. Our daughter and I previoiusly had discussed her need to visit a fabric store to get supplies for a project that weekend. I asked her if she would like to go to this store intead of the one nearer to home. It felt like this was the way the Holy Spirit was pointing us. She agreed.
We had a great time in the store! She found exactly the fabric she needed at good prices. We proceeded to the cutting table. The woman who assisted us when our turn came was wearing two pins on her collar. One was a yellow ribbon pin and the other was an American flag.
I asked her if there was a special meaning behind the pins. She spoke immediately with pride of her two grandchildren who currently were serving in the military. As she cut a yard of the next fabric, she mentioned a good friend whose son was a Marine. Suddenly at my left a woman leaned in. She was that Marine mom friend.
As I thanked both women for their families’ service (because a person’s military service effects the whole family), the Marine mom said there was a Gold Star mom in the store who should be thanked as well. (The Gold Star designation is for families whose servicemember has given his or her life in the war).
At that moment this mother approached our little group pushing a basket filled with bolts of fabric. So now there were three military families around us and both my daughter and I knew with certainty why God had not allowed us to enter the conference. If we had been there, we couldn’t have been on assignment for God here. He had known these women would be here at this exact moment and He wanted us to bless and encourage them in His name.
After asking a few questions and listening to them share answers, I asked if the concept of God was offensive to them. The Marine mom and Gold Star mom both shared how it is their faith which gets them through. (The store employee had had to go back to her work and did not hear the question.) I asked if they would like a gift God had had me prepare for them, explaining I had a Christian non-profit to support the troops and their families with Christian spiritual encouragement called Eagles Nest Foundation.
While my daughter stayed and chatted with them, I went to the car and put together worship toolkits for these women – a Gold Star worship toolkit for the one and standard worship toolkits for the others.
Worship toolkits are a concept the Lord had me develop after the 2005 vision and after establishing Eagles Nest Foundation in September 2007. Each one contains a “POWer of Worship” booklet, which I wrote in 2007 which describes authentic worship and teaches what God promises when we worship, a worship CD, a copy of the song STAND UP (to honor the mission), a letter from me to the military family, and a prayer coin, all put together in a beautiful, shimmering, gauze gift bag.
That morning before we left the house, the Lord had had me put worship toolkit supplies and empty gift bags in the car. I had thought this was so I could share the worship toolkit concept with some of those at the conference because it was something they would understand. (Many Christians do not yet understand what God promises when we worship and therefore do not understand the importance of worshipping God day in and day out.
Now I knew the reason God had had me put the worship toolkit supplies in
the car was in order to have everything I needed to bless these women.
We found out another military mom they knew locally had suffered the loss of her son to suicide. She was not a fellow believer and so my daughter went to the car and got a copy of Michael and Danielle Everett’s powerful gift book, Grief-Thoughts and Reflections to give them to her. The book helps those who are grieving feel less alone and points to God in a way that even those who are not yet believers are comfortable and comforted by the book.
After about an hour with the Gold Star mom and Marine mom, we prepared to leave the store. We had one more Worship Toolkit to deliver. I still had one in my hand for the employee who had cut our fabric.
I saw her walking toward the front of the store and called her name. She stopped and waited for me to reach her. I handed her the Worship Toolkit and thanked her once again for her family’s service. Her eyes welled up with tears; she thanked me; her voice cracking with emotion and gave me a hug.
My daughter and I finally left the store knowing that God had loved these women so much that He had planned our whole day so we would be in the fabric at that exact moment, when we had started the day with a completely different plan, expecting to go to the fabric store nearer our home with the following afternoon.
What a surprise! What a deight! God-appointments…the reason I cannot tell Him ‘no’ when He prompts me to do something. What if I hadn’t put the worship toolkit supplies in the car before I left. What if we had taken a different freeway home? What hadn’t I put the worship toolkit supplies before the conference.
God knows what’s coming. We do not. When we risk to obey Him, instead of doing things the way we think makes sense, there is really no risk at all because He already knows what He plans and it is good.
For me because of these two particular God appointments highlighte here, He showed me once again how much He loves each individual. He had me drive on an errand that was no errand to bring gifts and a listening ear to a grieving father. He had me leave a conference I had looked forward to for months to ensure four individual women were blessed, encouraged, and affirmed. What a mighty God we serve! Because of too many God-appointments to count, I have become addicted to serving God whatever way He asks of me at all times. I encourage you to try it and become addicted to Him as well. He is the addition for which we were created!
Selah! [Pause, and calmly think of that!]
PLEASE watch the new music video to “RESTORE” (with choir) on youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piQYnPY1vIA&feature=related SHARE the link! Let’s worship together as we pray, seek His will, stand and re-take ground for Christ in our communities and beyond (for His glory)!
Elizabeth Fulgaro is a wife, mother, writer, inspirational speaker, worship leader, composer, singer & recording artist. She is also a Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Financial Counselor with a heart for helping Christians understand and steward their finances God’s way.
For books, worship cds, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.holyspiritpress.org Worship music audio clips can be found at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ElizabethFulgaro For information on her work for the military and their families please visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org Eagles Nest Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation. Contributions are tax-deductible.