The day before I reported for Jury Duty, I spent the entire day in bed due to the pain of a really bad headache. I had suffered a face/neck injury 5 years earlier when I collided with another person while playing a game of “Capture the Flag” as a counselor at a youth camp. At the time of my jury duty, I still had not wanted to spend the money on physical therapy for my neck.
The old injury seemed to plague me whenever I bumped my head even slightly, or when I pushed myself physically, not taking time to rest and stretch my neck and back muscles throughout the day. So, I was anxious that I would develop a “shutdown headache.” That’s the kind of headache that sends me to bed, curled up in a ball of pain, unable even to open my eyes.
So, as Day Two of Jury Duty unfolded, I was still really hoping that I wouldn’t be chosen for the jury due to my concerns about my neck/head pain as well as wanting to keep our anniversary trip plans. As part of the selection process, our judge asked if any of us would endure “severe economic hardship” by serving on the case, or if we had a medical reason to be excused such as “dialysis required” or “heart surgery scheduled.” I knew that my worries didn’t fall into those categories, so I decided not to attempt to present my “needs” to get out of serving on the case. I knew that I would be extremely nervous to speak in front of the whole court and 50-some prospective jurors, presenting my case, so I decided to just accept whatever came.
When I was called into the box to be Juror #11, I knew that I likely would not be “thanked and excused” by the attorneys. As much as I really didn’t want to be sitting in my seat, I realized there was another seat I was REALLY thankful I wasn’t sitting in – the defendant’s seat.
Late that morning, the 12 jurors plus 1 alternate were chosen, and the rest of the prospective jurors were excused. In one sense I was relieved – at least I knew that I would be serving on the case, and I no longer was wondering what would happen.
Then the judge turned to us and said, “Now, before I swear you in, I just want to make sure you’re all going to be okay with our schedule for the trial; for example, none of you has plane tickets to Sweden for this weekend…”
Since the judge seemed much less severe – even friendly and relaxed – in his tone and demeanor and because the audience was much smaller – 13 jurors instead of more than 50 prospective jurors, I felt comfortable to speak up. I explained that we had made arrangements for our 5th anniversary which would create a schedule conflict if the trial continued into the following week as planned. I realized that it wasn’t as big a deal as plane tickets to Sweden, but for us, our trip was a big deal. We had made arrangements for it, and a one-hour road trip to stay aboard the Queen Mary was a big deal to us since our health challenges made longer trips seem impossibly difficult. I shared that Brody and I would be okay if it didn’t work out for us to take our trip as planned. We had already considered that possibility when we chose not to ask for an extension on my Jury Duty six weeks earlier when I received my summons after having made the arrangements for our trip.
The judge made a quick phone call and met with the attorneys for a minute or two, and then announced that the schedule for the trial would change to accommodate my trip! I am still amazed at how God worked out the details for us to take that trip. I am also thankful that the whole court was willing to accommodate my preferences. I really appreciated that the court demonstrated a reasonable attitude. As it turned out, the gentleman sitting next to me in the jury box was relieved for the schedule change, too, since he was leading a meeting with several coworkers the next week. All those coworkers would have had to cancel their plane and hotel arrangements, causing a great financial cost to his business.
I did not expect to come away from Jury Duty with a renewed sense of gratitude for God’s grace… we don’t usually associate grace with the courtroom. But that second day of Jury Duty is still fresh in my mind as a wonderful example of God’s kind working in my life.
That evening, I came home and experienced another example of God’s care. Our chiropractor, Dr. Kevin Joe of Joe Family Chiropractic, called to check in and see how we both were doing! He graciously offered us an appointment that evening to follow up after our adjustments from two days earlier. Dr. Kevin Joe has been a true blessing to us as we’ve been improving from various back and neck injuries over the years. The call from our chiropractor that evening was a clear demonstration of God’s sustaining grace to me in the midst of my difficult times. Whenever I find myself worrying about whether or not I can bear up under the strain of a difficulty without sinning, I remember this day. God faithfully provided what I needed to endure the difficulties of Jury Duty! I Corinthians 10:13 He truly bears our burdens! Psalm 68:19
I’ll write Part 3 about my jury duty experience later.
For now, here’s an example of how I used the Chicken-Broccoli-Kale Slaw as a tasty protein for a luncheon. The blueberry coffee cake is my gluten-free conversion of Any-Fruit Coffee Cake from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 1989 Edition. If you’re interested in my recipe, just let me know! I arrived at my recipe by using the conversion technique described in A Recipe for Survival. Since I developed the recipe around the time that God graciously provided for us to pay off our Seminary loan, we call this “Out-of-Debt Coffee Cake!” God is so good!