Flash-backing to fast-forwarding.

A BRIGHT orange leopard-print steering wheel cover for my first car ever. Techno/electronic music (which I still love!). Gummy bears in the glove compartment. Head banging while driving. Friends. Family. TCBY as my first ‘real’ job. Decisions. A mom who stalked for my own good. School. High school, that is.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen! This was my Junior year in high school. Here in “the States”. I was normally homeschooled along with my sisters while on the mission field, but this was our “in the States” year. (We came back to America every 3 years to have a ‘rest’ of sorts.)

I grew up as a missionary kid in West Africa mostly (some in Jamaica and Quebec, CA). If you follow this blog, you’ll see the occasional post of many memories and experiences here and there–some funny and some thought-provoking and some…….well, c’est Afrique!

So in my Junior year, I was ALL that and a bag of chips, per se. Perhaps even Cape Cod Salt ‘n Vinegar potato chips! Man. I sure thought I was. Didn’t we all think we were ‘all that’ at some point though??

I dreamed day and night of being in the USAF and flying F-16’s. That was my dream. I wanted to be a fighter pilot. Also, I dreamed of flying on the C-M Super Galaxy aircraft and working as a nurse to save lives of the injured in our military. I had a poster of this plane in our bathroom! I used to listen to my electronic music and envision situations where I was the hero of the day! So reachable as a Junior in high school, so I thought. However, my dreams of flying in the Air Force were kind of crushed when I realized that my severe scoliosis would be a no-go for being a fighter pilot. But you know? God had MUUUUCH bigger plans for me. I think I actually would have made it in the Air Force. My natural math capabilities are not what they would need to be to fly necessarily, but I truly think if I didn’t have a crooked back–I would have made it somewhere, somehow. It’s all I thought about and I wanted it so much.

But AGAIN! God had even BETTER things in store for me. And I had NO idea. If you know me now and you’re not previous friends or family–after about 2001–you probably would not have known me if that would have been my life’s course. I met Frank, my husband, in 2002 after all! Wow!

Anyways, a long but intricate story cut short: My Junior year. I had a 1986 Mazda 626 as my first car. I TRULY thought I had arrived. Haha! To spruce it up, I decided it needed a bright orange/leopard print steering wheel cover, Mardi Gras beads dangling from the rear view mirror, an endless supply of gummy bears for my passengers and LOTS dance/techno/electronic music. Artists from Alice Deejay, Vengaboys to Eiffel 65. (I am dancing just thinking about those beats now…and head banging!)

I was dating a guy who I thought was going to be my forever guy–and my mom in her wisdom knew MUCH differently and BETTER. I worked at TCBY and she used to come and wait while I got out of my shifts at 11pm from making frozen yogurt treats to watch and make sure I didn’t do anything stupid in the car with this guy. He used to come and wait in the parking lot when I got out of work. I love my mom so much…and now having 3 daughters of my own–have a new found respect for this ‘stalking’. I will, too, be ‘stalking’ if necessary. I pray every day that I won’t be, and that this generation will be different than mine. Oh my word!! Who with kids can relate?! Keep EVERYTHING in your undergarments from top to bottom. Yes ma’am (and sir).

So, as I was saying. My Junior year. I remember my mom and dad talking about what the next year was going to look like. I remember feeling that dread in my gut–change is coming. It’s about to be my “Senior Year” and my big finale as my last year in high school. Who wants to be the new kid in their Senior class?? I had a good thing going here in the “the States” with my BOOM, BOOM, BOOM BOOMing {Vengaboys} and my job and “my” life, and I wanted it to stay that way. I was outspoken about this to my parents…I can’t imagine what they went through. Torn from hearing this from their child and torn from hearing the call of their life’s call. WHEW. There were other contributing factors to this, but they came to me one evening and said this: “Michelle, we are giving you the choice of staying in America or going back to Africa. You make the decision, and we as family will do whatever you decide. If you want to stay, we’ll stay for another year.”

Uuuhhhmmm…..me? You mean I decide if our family goes back to Africa or stays in the States? ME? So, you’re telling me we could actually STAY here for me to finish out my Senior year? I was BLOWN away by this possibility! It sounded absolutely incredible. (There were so many other contributing factors to this as well, and my parents were prepared to stay in the States at this point.)

But God. I have walked with Jesus since I was 7 years old. I know His voice when I hear it, and He started to speak. My mom and dad gave me a week to decide. The ‘ear’ in my heart would not stop hearing His voice–that still small voice. I was in the shower one night, and I audibly heard God speak. The first time ever having His voice audible in my physical ears and not the ‘ear’ in my heart. He said this: “What is ONE year of your life compared to an eternity in hell for an African who needs to hear My truth?” That’s all I needed to hear! (Slightly freaked out, but HEY.)

I saw the big picture, and I THANK GOD for that! I can’t imagine where I’d be now. So many INCREDIBLE things happened because of this decision to go back on the mission field my Senior year. It wasn’t all rainbows and ponies, trust me. Is it ever? Maybe sometimes! I have screwed up maaaaany a time since then. But MANY people came to know Jesus as their Savior from our ministry in Africa. (My mom has actually written two books about our life!) In This Place and In Every Place by Kim L. Abernethy

There’s so many things I want to convey with this flashback, but what I will hone in on is this:

You can make your plans, but GOD directs your steps. Proverbs 16:9. Make ’em. DREAM ABOUT THEM. Taste them! But know THIS: God is bigger than any plans we {as humans} could ever possibly dream up or about. I am so very thankful for how God has directed my life’s steps. And no matter YOUR age: If you’re a young buck or an older person but still breathing air, God has steps designed for your plans. Let Him be GOD and direct and maneuver them. You absolutely will not regret it!

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