20150612_LizCurtisHiggs_PeaceandContentment

When I was a young single woman searching for a job, Kentucky wasn’t even on my radar. I figured it was mostly rural. Horse farms. Fried chicken in a red-and-white bucket. Hillbillies.

Clearly I didn’t know the Bluegrass State, and I definitely didn’t know the Lord. But He knew me. Knew where I needed to be, knew what was best for me.

“The Lord knows those who are His.” {2 Timothy 2:19}

When a job offer came, I moved to Kentucky in the darkness of winter, figuring I’d be there six months, tops. Even as I unpacked boxes, I plotted my exit. Big City Miss Ruth Ann wasn’t about to call the rolling hills and hollers of Kentucky home.

Then spring came.

A soft breeze through an open window
A row of brooms, tiptoeing toward the light

Wildflowers blanketed the countryside. Redbuds and dogwoods burst into bloom. Birdsong greeted me in the morning, and an owl hooted me to sleep at night.

Little did I know that God was wooing me. Softening my heart, making room for His Spirit. I’d been busily mailing out resumes, looking for work in San Francisco or Dallas or Chicago. Somewhere bigger, busier, bolder. A place where I could get lost in the crowd.

I was already lost. What I needed was to be found.

God waited until I was ready, until the pace of my life had slowed enough for me to appreciate the beauty of His world and the affection of His people. They invited me into their homes. They told me about God. They read me His Word. Then, they showed me what God could do with a broken soul like mine.

These Kentucky people? They loved me, plain and simple.

Wooden chair with woven seat
Wool and Handwoven Baskets

Our sister Ann Voskamp says, when taking photos, “Always look for the light.” The same wisdom applies to every area of our lives, whether we’re gazing through a camera lens or opening our eyes to the reality of a God who cares.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” {Matthew 6:22}

With each passing month, contentment seeped into my soul. I discovered that quiet suits me better than noisy, that friendly beats trendy, that green grass and white fences are as pleasing to the eye as the finest cityscape.

I didn’t merely settle for Kentucky; Kentucky settled in me. God had gone ahead of me and prepared a place for me. It’s not the state I might have chosen, but it’s the state were I was chosen. The state where I met the Lord and married my husband and gave birth to our children and made friends for a lifetime.

It’s home until He comes to take me home.

Where has God planted you, beloved? Is it home for now or home for good? If God said “Stay,” would you? If God said, “Go,” could you?

Peace and contentment come when we say yes to now and no to fretting about the future; when we seek His light, right where we are, and gladly point others in His direction.

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way.” {2 Thessalonians 3:16}

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

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  • Anna

    What a beautiful story. God is so very good. Thank you so much for sharing this story of God’s wooing.

    A big part of my journey back home to the LORD was the beauty of nature. When my Mum had just been given two months to live, I walked my one year old daughter in the buggy with a mountaineous landscape in the background. I wept from the beauty of it and from the feeling that God was holding me tight in that moment. Several months later, after Mum had gone to be with the LORD, I sat crying asking God to show me that He really loved me and I opened my Bible to Psalm 23, to the (Message version) words:
    “Your beauty and love chase
    after me every day of my life.
    I’m back home in the house of
    God for the rest of my life.”
    And I really see that “beauty” as a way He has used to convey His love for me. He really has chased after me with it and continues to do so. The other day I opened my Bible to Luke 11:33-36
    “If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dark cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room. ”
    and it reminded me to open my eyes to His love for me…in both nature and people around me (especially my two little girls).

    • http://www.LizCurtisHiggs.com Liz Curtis Higgs

      Anna, your comments blessed me BIG TIME this morning! I love how the Lord wooed you back into his embrace with the beauty of His creation. And thanks for sharing those verses from The Message. Eugene Peterson’s take on Scripture is profound. Yes, Lord, fill us with light, so we won’t get “musty and murky!” Blessings on you and your girls.

      • Anna

        So glad to hear that. He knows exactly what will touch our heart. I love The Message version and God has used it in a powerful way in my life. Blessings to you and your family as well.

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Liz,
    I really needed this post this morning. I needed a big dose of God’s peace and leave it to you to serve it up just the way it was needed. I have no other words but to say “thank you” and God bless you sweet lady…
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • http://www.LizCurtisHiggs.com Liz Curtis Higgs

      Our faithful God always knows what we need. Thanks for sharing, Bev!

  • Jennifer Homer

    As a military spouse there is so much truth to be found in
    “Peace and contentment come when we say yes to now and no to fretting about the future.”
    Thank you. This was exactly what I needed to start my day and has encouraged me to stop, breathe, ‘in’joy my present surroundings and to stop fretting about where we are headed next and when. :)

    • http://www.LizCurtisHiggs.com Liz Curtis Higgs

      First, thank you for your family’s service to our country, Jennifer. I can only imagine the sense of “what’s next?” that you live with. May God’s peace and contentment surround you this day…and every day!

  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    I live in St. Louis, a place in some ways that is more small-town, but with big-city advantages. It’s okay, but I live here mostly because my family does. If I could move, I’d follow in the footsteps of my dear friend and blogger Shelly Miller and pack it up for England or somewhere in the British Isles. My husband will retire in December (PTL!), and I realize I may not even travel again. Finances will be tight. I may live in St. Louis in the same house I’ve lived in for nearly seventeen years (and the house before that for twenty-four) for the rest of my life. Who know? Before “coming home” I had a fascinating job as executive director for the world’s largest USO and felt we did a world of good for America’s military and their families. And then God asked me to give that all up to enter motherhood at forty, pretty much kicking and screaming. It was not easy–for me anyway. But you know what? God changed my heart, and I’ve come to realize that contentment and joy are not about a place and position, but about a Person. There are days when I never leave my house, and it’s really fine. I’m not depressed. I’m not unmotivated. I’m not lackadaisical. I am content. Is it unexpected? You bet. Did I need to surrender my will to His? Of course. Was it worth it? Oh yes. This is a beautiful piece, Liz, and a wonderful reminder that in the end, we really don’t know what’s best for us, but God does. My daughter needed me. And I discovered that I needed her and certainly Him far more.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Love
    Lynn

    • DA Schuhow

      Thanks for sharing this Lynn.

      • Lynn morrissey

        Thanks so much, DA!

    • Red

      “I’ve come to realize that contentment and joy are not about a place and position, but about a Person.”

      I love this. Beautiful!

  • Veronica

    Hi Liz, a job offer also brought my husband and I to Kentucky. We knew very little about the state, except that when we visited prior to our move, we liked that everything was so green and pretty. If God said “stay”, I would. If God said “Go”, I would. Home to me isn’t so much a location, but where my family is found. And where God is found. I have worried about my future, and thought on more than one occasion, “Lord is this the locale you really want for me?” He then reminds me to trust, rather than try to figure it out on my own. Some days are just plain hard, but as He keeps showing Himself faithful, I lean into Him more and more. Thanks for this dose of peace this morning.

  • Mary

    I love this post. I have lived in the same house since 1979. I thought I would be moving on after my husband died as I could not afford it or care for it. God had other plans, he brought an amazing man into my life and we decided to marry and stay in the same house. He has done amazing things with it and I am continuing to enjoy the house I help build years ago. I especially love sitting in the sunroom my 2nd husband and I added on. The answer is yes, I love where I am, but yes I could move if God opened that door. For however long he puts me here it is home, but only for this life, true home waits with God.

  • chele

    This is so beautiful and heartwarming! From one former bad girl to another – You Go, Sistah! <3

  • Penny

    Thank-you so much Liz,

    I really enjoyed your soothing post. Your wisdom reached deep,

    Someone made a comment the other day that really touched me, “You have a peaceful yard,” they said. I think that’s what truly matters, creating light no matter where we are. So yes I have to find peace that I am where I’m meant to be until I’m guided elsewhere.

    Blessings to you all,
    Penny

  • http://ChasingHoliness.com/ Brenda

    What a lovely story. How precious the thought that He goes before us, choosing exactly what He knows we need–and is patient with us until we “get it” too. He led us to a state that I never dreamed that I’d live in again too, and He changed my heart to make it “home”. Love Him.

    (…We lived in KY for a while a few years back, and I love those stone fences, and all of the horses…so pretty; such a quaint place to be able to hang your hat.)

    Lovely post, thank yo for sharing. :)

  • http://pttyann.wordpress.com/ pat

    So funny! An oh so good! It’s amazing what God will do when we have time to listen,it’s absolutely true God knows us and what’s best for us! I enjoyed this so much and the photos were good.
    Love in Christ Pat

  • karen

    I can’t tell you how much I loved this! To be able to look back on your life and see God’s hand when you had NO idea it was there! SO very sweet! ( I’m not usually “weepy”, but I may just need a tissue now! :-)

  • Tiffany Pierce Tindle

    I have been a Kentucky girl all my life. I have heard all the stereotypical sayings about Kentucky….backwoods, Hillbilly, uneducated, poor, ignorant religious nuts, etc. I used to get angry and upset when I heard those things….when I was much younger I was even slightly embarrassed to be from Kentucky. Now, I am blessed beyond measure to be exactly where God placed me. A wonderful Christian husband and father. Three sons born and bred here, all with higher educations or in the process of and all very proud to be from Kentucky. Two college degrees and my mission in life serving others through education. My short drive to work in the mornings are my time to thank God for the trees that glow with His colors in the fall and lose those colors in the winter when they sleep. I thank Him for the mission that I have and the children that I teach. I thank Him for the families He allows me to witness to. I would not be who I am in Christ if I was not where I am and I am grateful for that. Thank you for loving our Lord and telling others about Him and our beautiful Bluegrass state!

  • Paula Osborne

    reading this was so heartwarming. I was born and raised in Ky and indeed there are some pretty good people there. I am pleased you met ones that showed their hearts..

  • jean_e_lane

    I have learned, through God moving us miraculously to a state 1400 miles from where we were, to not grow deep roots into His creation, into His gifts. So yes, if He said, ” Go”, I would go as quickly as I could. Back then I had the roots of my heart very deep into what I thought was my home. That move was the hardest thing I had ever done (so far!). So I am determined not to make that same mistake again. We’ll see if something else comes up, like a grandchild or . . . . ;)

  • Beth Williams

    Liz,
    What a story about God wooing us! I lived in Florida for about 20 years and didn’t like any of it. Too hot, big city, too much traffic. Then in 1995 we moved to Upper E. TN on VA, NC border. I have loved living here. About 11 years ago I married and moved to a quaint little town Elizabethton, TN. We live in the country surrounded by mountains and friendly people. It would be hard if God said to move 1) my aging dad is in assisted living and I see him 2 times weekiy and help take care of him. The biggie 2) I love my little church way out in the country. Adore the people and the pastor and his wife are great people! They go out of their way for you.
    Blessings :)

  • http://www.benandme.com/ Marcy @ Ben and Me

    God planted me in Kentucky, too, nearly 30 years ago. We’re practically neighbors, sweet Liz. I drive by your place when I visit my honey guy down the road from you. Sometimes when I drive by I think to myself, “I should top and introduce myself (because I’ve been reading your books since Once Size Fits All — so I kind of know you, right?). But then words like “stalker” and “trespassing” enter my head and I keep on driving. LOL! Some day. In His time.

    I agree with everything you wrote here. About Kentucky, and about blooming where He plants you. We could both of done much worse than the garden where He has placed us.

  • http://faithspillingover.com Betsy Cruz

    What a beautiful story, Liz. Thanks for sharing your testimony. Reading this makes me homesick! But I realize that God makes our home and pursues us wherever we are. My life is quite different since I’ve lived overseas all but 3 years our of the last 26. My Turkish home in Izmir is beautiful: Turkish coffee, friendly neighbors, hospitality you can NEVER outdo, crazy Turkish music blaring on the mini-buses, Greek ruins, mosques, the call to prayer. Our life is a bit of a nomad life, but God always goes ahead.

  • Kim Murphy

    This was for me this morning. I’m having some battles in my life but also know God has blessed me. I’m still here. I’m not as physically able to do what I’d like. My life has gotten smaller and smaller and darker and darker. It’s been my choice, now I realize. I need to find the light, wherever I am and whatever the situation. God Bless You!

  • Nancy Ruegg

    Because my husband was a minister to six churches in forty years, I have had to “go” a number of times against my preference of staying. But looking back, I would have missed some unique experiences, exciting opportunities, and delightful relationships. God taught me some important lessons during each move, too–accessing his peace and contentment in spite of uncertainty were certainly among them!