I live in the south. No, wayyyy down south. Where the real, real southerners live. We’re the last city you see before you hit the warm gulf waters. Mobile is a beautiful city filled with true southern hospitality and charm. We boast yummy foods that most northerners do not understand. We love tradition. We love the coastal life and we love each other. However, we do not completely understand a life filled with distinct seasonal changes. Our landscape doesn’t change that much from one season to another, with the exception of spring when our cozy little spot at the most southern part of Alabama explodes with color….and allergies! As we stroll through our spring enjoying azaleas of every color, every imaginable shade of green in our foliage and relishing in the salt air floating in from the gulf, we find ourselves loving the world. It’s hypnotizing! A few days later, summer stomps in announcing a season of sunbathing, island living, hammock swinging, barbecue loving, horseshoe playing, baseball throwing, outdoor concert dancing, boat riding and every other warm weather, summer loving, activity you can think of. Did I mention we have very long summers? We are located on a bay, connected to an island by a small bridge, an hour drive to a sandy white beach and a quick thirty minutes to a small artsy town. Again, our summers are long. So long we find ourselves every year saying “Summer was never this hot and long when I was growing up!” Every year. We long for fall weather, pumpkins, sweaters and spiced lattes and yet, they are very slow in coming. We do our best to bring on cooler weather with our fancy fall door hangers and decorations. We sit in our air conditioned cars, warm lattes in hand, wishing for that pre-thanksgiving crisp air. We fear we will jump from summer straight into winter, completely skipping the cozy fall weather. We’ve even been known to have a late season hurricane, as if nature is making a last ditch effort to show us her skills. Thanksgiving is a toss up as to whether it will be cool or warm, we never know. We just hope. Today it is cold outside and rainy. Our hopes rise. Sweaters are jerked out of the bottom drawers and the lines at Starbucks are long. It’s fall y’all….at least for a few days! Winter will be upon us before we know it…..at least for 15 minutes! Then we will head back into spring and then summer. It’s been said about Mobile that if you don’t like the weather, hang around for about fifteen minutes and it will change. It is so true. I believe this has produced a culture that adapts quickly to any weather change. Well, except for that occasionally snow flurry that happens about every five to ten years and causes school and work shut downs because we have no clue how to drive on ice and snow. No worries, though, it will be gone tomorrow!!! But today it is fall. Like legit fall. Like in the mountains of Tennessee fall, except we still have green leaves on the trees. Enjoy it while you can, because we Mobilians know Thanksgiving is coming and we’ll probably be wearing t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops while eating smoked turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, sweet potato soufflé, dumplins, carrot cake, pecan pie and sweet tea! Happy Fall Y’all!
Walking with Christ is about obedience. It is about surrendering your own will and desiring the will of God for your life. It is about throwing off the old and putting on the new. It is about creating in me a clean heart. It is about doing the hard things, even when we don’t want to. It is about walking in the spirit and not walking in the flesh.
Yesterday I did something that I didn’t want to do. Something that I believe God was prompting me to do. I’ve chewed on it for a long time. It meant choosing to be obedient. Choosing to suck it up and do the right thing. Taking the step was difficult. First I had to play the conversation over and over in my head to formulate exactly the right words. Then I took a deep breath and made contact. Then I waited.
It didn’t turn out as I thought it would. In fact, it didn’t go any further than making contact. The other person didn’t want to engage. I retreated, a little confused with God. So for the rest of the day I pondered it over and over with the Lord and came to a final conclusion. It had been about obedience. That is all. I took a step toward obedience and did what I thought God was telling me I needed to do. The amazing part is this, I now feel free to move forward without continuous thoughts of needing to do the right thing. He just wanted me to be willing to do what was hard, and to actually take action toward doing that hard thing.
Not everyone would understand this situation. Not everyone has all the details. But that is okay. It is not about everyone. I am putting it to rest. I have done all I need to do in this situation and can move on.
God is good. He knows us so well. He knows exactly what we need. He knows what it will take for us to continue on in this journey with Him. Obedience. When I was thinking about this blog post I kept trying to remember a verse that I thought was about being obedient to Him. I searched and searched with the words I could remember. Then I found it…..and it wasn’t about obedience. It was about trust. I laughed because trust is the ongoing thing He has been teaching me for the last year and a half. Complete and unwavering trust. But I guess they go hand in hand. Trust and obedience really are the same thing!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
I woke up this morning still tired after a night of sleeping and waking and thinking. My life has changed so much in the last year and a half, and continues to change and move into a new season. A year and a half ago I lost my job. But it didn’t seem to matter so much because we were in the trenches of cancer and I was thankful to walk every step with my big guy, holding his hand, praying, listening, hoping. After the “all clear” words came from the doctor, we went home and just sat in our living room quietly. The words we had hoped for and prayed for had come. Now for finding normal. That was in May and life has continued to move forward as if the year of cancer never happened. A year and a half ago we were welcoming a new grandson into our lives. A year and a half ago we were in the midst of planning baby girl number two’s wedding. A year and a half ago we lost my sweet Daddy.
I began keeping our new grandson when my daughter returned to teaching during this past year. It has been a joy watching him grow and getting to love on him on a daily basis. But this past August, when school began again, my daughter decided to put her boy in daycare in preparation for a second baby on the way. I am told finding and getting into a good, reliable, and desirable daycare is both competitive and difficult. I had no idea. So he went to daycare after a year of staying with Lolly. He loves it and has adapted quite easily. My man cub is growing up too fast!
So, now, for the last two months I have been trying to figure out what next. Yes, there are wedding plans still going on for baby girl number three, but that will be over in another thirty-nine days. But then what? I guess last night it was on my mind and I would go to sleep, dream, wake up, think about it for awhile, then start over again by filing asleep. I’ve talked about getting a job, but I’m not sure if I’m even supposed to get a job right now. I’ve prayed about it, and I get the sense from the Lord that I am exactly where he wants me to be for now. I’m just having trouble adjusting, even after a year and a half. I’m trying to find some routine. I’m trying to write a little each day, even if it is just to blog a short piece. I’m trying to figure out what the next step the Lord has for me. I’m trying to establish a regular morning time with Him. I even got out my daughter’s Kurig and am trying to drink coffee like a real grown up….decaf, of course! The crazy thing is I can’t remember the last time I had quiet time like this in the mornings. I’ve been raising baby girls for the last twenty-eight years. I remember dreaming of slower mornings, peace and quiet, a clean house, time to write and here I am.
For now I will enjoy the peaceful and quiet mornings. I will enjoy having time to spend with the Lord. I will enjoy the slower pace. Maybe I will eventually be able to write about my big guy and I going on adventures. But today I’ll sip some decaf coffee and enjoy this rainy morning…..and maybe check my to do lists for the wedding, prepare my devotional to deliver to the students on Sunday afternoon, do some laundry, clean the kitchen, make the bed……
For anyone reading this blog, don’t stress over the season you are in at this moment. If you have a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father, you are not alone. He is with you. He will walk with you and guide you. He will listen to you as you tell Him about your concerns, your dreams, your life. He truly cares. Only He can wrap you in a peace that passes all understanding.
Today I sat and read scripture I have read many times before, but God in His grace and mercy allowed His presence to surround me and remind me of the truth, He knows me. I assumed He had led me to these verses for someone else, so I promptly shared the verses with a sweet friend. My thoughts were sincere, she needed to know that God created her uniquely and that He took time to make her who she is, and He is with her. He is there when she looks and lives out her life exactly as He planned and He is there when she stumbles and finds herself face down in the pit that tripped her up. I wanted her to be reminded of that because she is His child, He knows her thoughts, as scary as that might be, and He loves her. He is “acquainted” with her ways. There is nowhere she can go from His Spirit. Such beautiful and comforting words.
Then as I pondered, who am I kidding, I chewed hard on all these words all morning. While I know they were for her, I believe they were also for me. A sweet reminder in this season of change, in this time of asking what He wants me to do next, in my searching for the direction I am to go. I kept going back to one of the verses that kept ringing truth in my heart, “You ‘hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” A memory floats around in my mind of one of my girls when they were small. I see my husband and I walking with a three year old full of energy. Curious about everything around her, unaware of the possible dangers or obstacles that may be in her path. We stand on each side of her, watching where we are walking, scanning the area around us, clasping her tiny hands as she struggles to break free and run ahead. We see an unfriendly dog and my husband instantly pushes her and myself behind him. I pick her up and stand protected behind him, his arm and hand extended back to protect. I am reminded that God is watching me, that He is looking ahead, He is scanning the area for any threats there may be, hemming me in when needed, laying His capable hand on me to protect and, yes, comfort from any fears that may arise.
We often think we can get so far from God that there is no way back. We think, somehow we are capable of going to a place He cannot go to bring us back. He pursues us, always. You cannot hide from God. He knows you. He’s watching and knows the path you have been on and He is waiting for you to realize He is there, waiting for you to acknowledge Him and call out to Him. To know that He knows and that He cares. He won’t push in. He waits for you to allow Him back into your life.
As you read these verses, take in the comfort and rest in the promise that He is watching and He knows you. He has plans for you. He is making a way for you. He is protecting. There is nowhere you can go from His Spirit! Turn toward Him now and be wrapped in His embrace and let Him love on you.
O Lord, you have search me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol (hell), you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you.