Ispontaneous I’m not. To put it mildly. I love lists and ten-to-twenty year plans with each step of the journey mapped out. Funny how life has a way of turning my game plan upside down. Or should I say, it’s glorious how God has a way of turning my best-laid plans upside down, because from red light to detour, He’s continually reminding me, it’s not up to me. Praise God for that!
Red Lights, Detours, and Closed Roads by Jennifer Hallmark
Have you ever been late for an appointment? Me too. At times, I haven’t given myself time to drive the distance, but this wasn’t my fault. I ran into red lights, detours, and closed roads.
My daughter had a follow-up doctor appointment after an ER visit. We left in time to arrive at the specialist, an hour and ten minute trip.
We drove through Decatur, getting stopped at every red light. Then came road construction and we were detoured into one lane. Twenty minutes to drive two miles. My daughter called the doctor to mention we’d be late. The receptionist told her if we were more than fifteen minutes late, we’d have to reschedule. I hurried when I could, and made up for lost time on the interstate. We were at exit seven when I saw the sign. Exit closed. Mandy called her husband and he said take exit nine. We could still make it.
After we took exit nine, we had no idea how to get to the doctor’s office. As I drove the main strip, nothing appeared familiar. Three calls to the receptionist later, we found the office, twenty minutes late. They let us keep our appointment. Whew!
As we sat in the waiting room, I penned this article. My daughter rolled her eyes, but hey, why waste a stressful moment when you can write about it?
You sign up to volunteer in the nursery on Sunday. The first day, you and the children are blessed. The next day you’re on the schedule, you wake up with the stomach virus, stay home and battle guilt. The next time your own child has the stomach virus. You ponder. Am I supposed to volunteer? The doubts begin. This is a red light, not a closed road. Go ahead and pray, but stay committed. Don’t quit the nursery because it’s too hard.
Detours happen. A lane is closed. You are pointed to an unfamiliar road around the construction. I don’t like unfamiliar roads, so my reaction can be fear. Should I turn around and go home?
The co-worker you carpool with changes jobs, so you need a new rider. She mentions another lady, but you don’t know her. A detour. Don’t let fear keep you from making a new friend and the possibility of sharing your faith.
A closed road can cause you to re-evaluate your destination. Can I still get there? We can’t imagine another way, so we quit and head home. Stop. The new way could lead to something better. Remember exit nine? On traveling this way, I noticed the place we hold our writer’s meetings and a new avenue to arrive there. The closed exit became an unexpected blessing.
I wrote a story for a Christian magazine, then it shut down. I held onto the story until a new door opened through a compilation of short stories. The projected magazine story would become part of a book.
The next time you encounter a red light, detour, or closed road, don’t despair. It might be God’s way of leading you to His purpose and plan for you.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55: 8-9, NKJV).
Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up.
In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.
Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job than she ever thought possible.
Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.
The twelve authors contributing to this project are: Elizabeth Noyes, Fay Lamb, Marji Laine, Jerusha Agen, Theresa Anderson, Patricia M. Dyer, Jennifer Hallmark, Paulette Harris, Betty Owens, Phee Paradise, Debbie Roome, Debra Ullrick.
A Dozen Apologies also includes fun bonus materials that give readers an inside glimpse of the heroes, Mara, and the process of writing a collaborative novel.
Jennifer Hallmark is a writer by nature, artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. At times, she writes.
Her website is Alabama-Inspired Fiction and she shares a writer’s reference blog, Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! with friends, Christina, John, Ginger, Tammy, Don and Betty. She and Christina Rich share an encouraging blog for readers called The Most Important Thing.
Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max.
Let’s talk about this! When has a detour or road block turned into a blessing? How might remembering that moment help you during times of struggle or stress? Perhaps your locked in unmoving, bumper to bumper traffic now. If so, what might God be trying to tell you? How might your “stagnation” be a blessing? How might remembering His nature–His love, grace, wisdom, and power–give you peace during chaotic or discouraging times?
Join the conversation here or at Living by Grace on Facebook.
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