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!
Today my very dear friend, Jennifer Hallmark, shares her thoughts on closed roads and detours, reminding us to keep our eyes above the smog.
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?
How many times have we been headed in the right direction, but ran into red lights, detours, and closed roads? Red lights are times when we try to push through, only to stop. Go. Stop. Go.
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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Thanks for letting me drop by, Jennifer!
Thank you for the great post! It gave me a lot to think about and reminded me of God’s love and sovereignty, even during the most insane traffic jams! 😛
Jennifer S. and Jennifer H., I was stopping by Jennifer S.’s blog today because I’ve nominated her for an award, but I wanted to be sure to read part of her blog before leaving a comment or two on here. You know that old saying, “God works in mysterious ways?” It seems He keeps showing me this over and over in my life all the time.
Life can have so many of those red lights, detours, and closed roads that sometimes they can feel overwhelming. Jennifer S., I know you know how I lost my daughter almost six years ago after she contracted E. coli. At the time, a road did close in my life. The road of raising our one and only child. A child that would be our only biological child due to infertility. Even as I write this to you and sharing my heart with you, tears are streaming down my face. Her 6 year mark of being gone is coming up on July 16. To look back, it doesn’t always feel like it’s been six years already, and then sometimes it does.
God did close the road for raising our daughter, but He opened another road for me I never even dreamed could exist in my life. He showed me He’d given me the gift of writing. While the road hasn’t been easy to travel as I’ve been learning the craft of writing fiction, it’s been a one I’m so glad I’m on. Along this road I found out about ACFW and am more than blessed God brought this organization into my life. The people that I’ve met and come into my life have meant so much. I’ve found life-long friends that I’m so blessed to have in my life. I thank the Lord for this group of people.
I’m so excited as I get to go to my first conference in September, and one of the best parts is I will get to meet so many of these individuals. It will be so exciting. I can’t wait.
I honestly didn’t mean to come here and leave a big, ol’ long message but when the words are laid on my heart they just seem to easily flow.
On a side note, I did want to let you know that I’ve nominated you for a Liebester Award. You can find it here: http://kristenatunstall.com/ive-been-nominated-for-a-liebster-award/ You can choose to accept it if you like as it’s optional.
Wow, Kristena, what an honor and encouragement. Thank you for your kind words and for thinking of me and highlighting my blog. I cherish ACFW, all the organization does to help writers, and all the amazing people I’ve met through the organization. (Including you!)
Jennifer, you are quite welcome. And I’m with you about ACFW.
So glad you stopped by, Kristena. I’m glad that you’re able to go to the conference. I pray that God will bless you abundantly there and continue the healing process…
Thank you Jennifer. I think God guided me to your post.
Kristena, I don’t think I can accept the award. I have over 200 subscribers/followers. (I read the rules on your site) But thanks so much for the honor and for thinking of me!
I believe the one who nominated me had nominated a couple with more than 200. I tried to find follower counts and if I couldn’t, I nominated the person because I felt they deserved no matter what. I think you can still do it and then nominate those you know who either have fewer than 200 or those if you can’t find their follower count. I just think it was fun not only answer the questions and coming up with my own questions for people to answer, but also telling 11 facts about myself. If nothing else I figure my readers my enjoy it. I also followed your blog. I’ve followed many in the past but yours is actually the only one I’ve been reading on a more regular basis. I’ve been liking what I’ve been reading. It hits home for me.