Unexpected Places

I spent this past Saturday taking part in an online women’s conference hosted by Priscilla Shirer.  The day was both uplifting and meaningful.  At first, I didn’t understand the importance of Priscilla’s theme on Unexpected Places.  Finally, in the last hour of the conference, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Priscilla’s third discussion on Unexpected Places explained how we  all find ourselves “here” at different times.  The question we always ask ourselves is, “how did I end up here at this time in my life?” The “here” can be a place, person (or lack of), job, anything that is not the reality we had playing in our heads of our perfect life.

It’s actually something I have asked God about often.  I live in a small community in deep south Texas in the Rio Grande Valley.  Never in my life would I have thought this would be my home.  A number of twists and turns that began in San Diego where I lived for 25 years, took me to Phoenix, Fort Worth and finally down here.  I had never planned any of this beyond San Diego.  I owned a home there. I was perfectly happy living near the ocean and working downtown, spending my weekends with my friends and being involved in a church I loved. Then I met a guy. God gave me this very kind, very gentle guy.  However, along with this guy came change.  When we moved to the Fort Worth area, things seemed to click in place.  I became a nurse, found a job I loved, a new best friend. I settled in and started living my life.  However, God still had other plans – plans that took us to the “Valley”.

This wasn’t a place I ever thought I would be. We’d visited many times because my guy’s family lived here.  We’d come on vacation.  We’d come to help when his dad was ill.  We’d come to celebrate holidays.  Never had I thought we’d actually ever live here.  It’s not that I don’t like my life here.  It just isn’t what I expected to be doing at this time in my life.  I’m blessed in many ways.  I’m retired now, so my routine and schedule are pretty much what I want them to be. I  have the time to volunteer. I live only 45 minutes from South Padre Island and the Gulf Coast. I became part of a wonderful church family. But I still questioned my purpose.  I couldn’t make peace with my life because there didn’t seem to be a reason for me to be in this place at this time.

After the conference I prayed for guidance, and I asked my heart some hard questions. Do I truly trust God? If I do, how can I continually question His putting me here? What dreams had God laid on my heart that I might be ignoring or discounting as His reason why I’m here? And finally, is it really even about me? I don’t have all the answers.   I do feel I have touched lives being here.  And others have touched me.  People who I hold dear and would never have met or truly known except because I am at this place at this time. My guy’s family now my family, who offers support and love, and takes some of the sting out of losing my mom recently. And my writing – how often I have wished for the time to write but never followed through because of work, raising children, and whatever else was going on in my life. Would I have made the time if I lived somewhere else, and did whatever I would have been doing elsewhere? Sometimes I think too much.  Trusting God is what it’s all about. What my life is all about.  So, for whatever reason God put me here, in this place, at this time, I am thankful. Now, I praise Him every day for putting me HERE. Wherever “here” happens to be in the future, I know I will always be in His Presence.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 ESV



Cultivating a Thankful Heart

I’ve had this thought on my heart for awhile now, but the words wouldn’t come.  When they did they didn’t sound right. Not to me, anyway.  Then, last night when I was drifting off to sleep, it dawned on me that I was waiting for the perfect words; those words that would flow without forethought and would land on the page easily and beautifully.  Don’t know what got into me, thinking that way.  I know better.  Writing is hard work, consisting of thoughtful wording and revisions.

Something else came to mind.  While I was waiting for perfection, I wasn’t consulting God about any of it. Not like me, really, but there it was. Not only wasn’t I consulting Him, I wasn’t THANKING Him for any of it.  I’ve been in the habit of saying, “Thank you, Lord,” for everything generally. However, it was like I had taken time off from this.  Like my heart wasn’t in it.

I lay awake for a long time, considering why my heart had gone rog aue all of a sudden.  Could it be that I felt I didn’t have things to be thankful for?  I’ve been very sick with a respiratory infection for the last two months.  I know it wore me down physically and mentally, but I remained spiritually uplifted through most of the ordeal. Of course, I know that Satan waits for just such moments to worm his way into our psyche. So I turned to my Bible to rekindle my “thankfulness”.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

There are many verses in the Bible about being thankful, but this is the one that seemed to resonate with me the most.  I pondered the verse for several minutes, praying that God provide me with a meaning beyond just the words. I sat in the stillness of my Prayer Room, listening to the dog’s rhythmic snoring. I sensed God’s pressing on my heart.  Really, there was no profound meaning that went deeper than the words themselves. Then came the realization that I had been missing the point.  My usual Thank You for all You have done for me wasn’t what My Father wants to hear from me.  He wants specifics. He wants everything.

EVERYTHING. God wants me to be thankful for everything. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the wonderful – being unable to breathe well (thankful that I can still Praise His Name) , being able to finally walk the dog (thankful that I am strong enough to at least do that). I am also learning that cultivating a thankful heart is a full-time job. It’s remembering to be thankful for each step I take, for every tiny thing I do all day. As with all things worthwhile, it isn’t always easy. I’ve always started my day praising and thanking God for all the wonderful things in my life, but now God is asking me to be thankful for the bad stuff, too. And I am.  Mostly, I’m thankful that God is in my life to walk me through the tough stuff. It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well.  It’s a blessing  to follow God’s will and be thankful when things aren’t going so well. I’m still working on it. And God’s still working on me.


Yours in Christ,

Darlene Frybarger