When Hard Places Become Timely Places – Linkup

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Have you ever found yourself in a hard place only to find out it’s exactly where you’re supposed to be?  Yea, me too.

I’m honored to share Brenda Bradford Ottinger’s writing today and I pray you see you’re exactly where God needs you to be.

Perhaps (for sure), I’ve had a daydream (or three) of someone coming by to make beds and vacuum floors—but this wasn’t exactly how I pictured it going down.

Quite the country mile (on a muddy gravel road) from what we’d planned, but, nonetheless, Suite 229 would be our address for a while.

Housekeeping angels aside, those months of hotel life were anything but charmed…except for one undeniable, aqua-tinted perk.

With home reduced to cramped hotel quarters, the pool quickly became our escape from the small of a room and its imposing walls.

Day upon cloudless day, we’d whisk through the halls and down the stairs with sunscreen and towels in tow—our RSVP to the sun’s hospitality.

And so it was that sun-kissed afternoon in July—just like the many days before it.

Well, except for the little detail of us being entirely unaware of the divine appointment God had penciled in for us.

He’s organized like that.

Flip-flops off and towels strewn, the boys splashed in chlorine-laced water as I settled into umbrella-graced shade.

My sons, still innocent enough to know no stranger, collected playmates almost as quickly as they collected dirt. And this golden summer afternoon proved no exception as they became fast friends with a boy whose name I wish I could remember.

Just another day in the life of a hotel-hitched family.

Oh, but it wasn’t.

If only we could fathom the differences we make by simply showing up for appointments we never knew we had. Hard places can be the best places. Come see how!

If only we could fathom the differences we make by simply showing up for appointments we never knew we had.

As the sun fell and bellies cried, I called my boys in for showers and supper. They scurried their shivering, towel-draped selves “home” while I stayed behind to gather our things.

And there, in the dusk of that humble space in time, God offered a glimpse of His Day-Timer, His iCalendar, His divine appointment book.

A warm voice interrupted my incessant mental chatter:

“Thank you,” she said.
“Your boys are great kids.”
“You should be proud.”

Who was never included. Who was used to being the lonely watcher, not the giddy splasher.

“This was a Godsend…the highlight of his year,” she said.
“Your boys, I don’t think they even noticed his differences.”
“Thank you more than you know.”


And here we thought we were going to the pool to get away from the nagging walls of a hotel room.

And here we assumed we were living the nomad life because we’d been unable to find a house in our new city.

And here we forgot we were Living Temples, Kingdom Builders, Divine Appointment Keepers.

Oh, the glory we’d see if we could pull back the curtain linking earth and sky, here and eternity—the many connections God’s laced together beyond our notice.

So often, in our most trying times, He’s busy weaving purpose into our pain—using our small for His great.

If only we could fathom the differences we make by simply showing up for appointments we never knew we had. Hard places can be the best places. Come see how!


He plants our feet in timely places, redeeming the difficult days in our stories for the greater good of Kingdom Come.

That evening, I walked back up those stairs to Suite 229 with fresh eyes for the unseen glories bound up in the heavy of life. New sight for old truths, as cramped hotel life became a worthy offering to the Guardian of eternal timetables.

I met God in the grateful eyes of a mom that day. In the laughs of a filled-up boy. In the sacred dance with Jesus to the gentle cadence of surrender’s song: Here am I, Lord, send me.

A little about Brenda Bradford Ottinger:


Brenda lives in North Carolina with her husband of 24 years and their three sons. Her favorite place to be is on a porch with a glass of sweet tea in one hand and a book (or camera) in the other. (And, bonus points if that porch happens to be at the ocean.) When not reading and writing, Brenda enjoys faith, family, friends, photography and laughter. You can connect with Brenda online at BrendaBradfordOttinger.com

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48 thoughts on “When Hard Places Become Timely Places – Linkup

  1. Brenda, what a beautiful post! How good of God to reveal this divine appointment to you. I wonder how many we encounter everyday and miss the fact they even happened. But how sweet when we do know!

  2. It’s kinda hard to accept at first, but eventually we realize that it really is where God wanted us to be.
    We are where He intends us to be.

  3. Thank you Brenda for sharing your story. Instead of being grumpy or surviving the hard times, we need to see everything is from Him above and be ready for anything. Like you we will blessed. I really liked this story because it did challenge me to think differently about life.

  4. I know I am just reading this on a Wednesday, but it is so timely because yesterday at Tea And Word during the Book of Ruth study I am doing on my blog, I talked about how Ruth and Naomi’s move seemed just like a normal reaction to current circumstances and such but that it had God’s hands all over it. The move was a fulfillment of prophecy because it was actually in Bethlehem where Kind David would be born and eventually Christ. God is so cool and this story made me think of that – that He really is in the details of our lives, and His word says it is something He delights in! I am so glad this mama and son got to experience kinship and happiness. What a joy!

    1. What a fun connection, Meghan. Love your reminder that orchestrating our details is something “He delights in.” Love Him. Thanks for sharing, Meghan. ((hug))

  5. Thank you Brenda for sharing this beautiful story of God working as He weaves the tapestry of our lives. So many scriptures about God’s plan for our lives come to mind. I ‘m glad you were blessed as you blessed this young boy and his mother. We never no how, when, or where God will use us; He just asks us to be ready. Praying you get settled in your new city soon. Have a wonderful week and may Godod continue to richly bless you and yours!

  6. Brenda, it’s so lovely to read your words here at Susan’s today. I am hopping over from your blog (Love the new look of your space!) — Years ago during a valley season, I read a great book by Kay Arthur called As Silver Refined that was based on the same premise as your post — We must view our disappointments and “His Appointments.” I’ve never forgotten that message, and it’s carried me through the darkest of days with hope.

    1. Hey, Lyli. <3 Just wrote down the name of that book. I've not seen that one before, but will look for it; sounds like it was instrumental in your life. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 xoxo

  7. Brenda,
    How amazing that God took what you offered him in your presence and shared the gift of your family with others in a way you’d never imagine. What a beautiful encouragement!

  8. Oh, Brenda, that we could push back the curtain.
    I love that God gave you a glimpse of the divine appointment your family had that day. But what made that day special for their family is you were living out your faith, welcoming people in. : )

  9. This deeply touched me this morning. See, I have kids on both sides: the ones who need to see the lonely, and one who IS the lonely. I pray daily for someone to BE that divine appointment who makes my son feel seen, and heard. What a wonderful story!
    Thanks for linking with InspireMeMonday

    1. Bless you Carol. Father God, we pray in unity for the divine appointments You ordain. In Momma time Lord is our heartfelt prayer, yet we trust You and Your perfect timing. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen

    2. Carol ((Hug)). I understand, I have kids on both sides too. I think that’s probably why my kids didn’t notice the differences. Praying with you for some divine appointments for your son. ((hug))

  10. Beautiful words, Brenda! I love hearing about God surprises. In the middle of challenges, God comes in when you lest expect to teach you the unforgettable. Blessings!

    1. The “unforgettable.” So true, Mary. It’s the little things that stay in our heart’s memory, isn’t it? 🙂 Sweet blessings, friend. <3

  11. Susan, thank you for letting Brenda share her story!

    Brenda, thank you for the reminder that God’s DayTimer might very well have something different for me than what I had planned … Let me be ready!

    1. “Let me be ready.” — love that quote, Jerralea. I need to write that down on an index card as a reminder. Isn’t it so easy to get distracted from the main thing?! 🙂 ((grace to you))

    1. Me too, Crystal. Such an honor to be about the ministry of the Lord…even (especially?) when we don’t realize we’re ministering. 🙂 ((hug))

  12. Beautiful post! It is so true, we never know when God will surprise us with a divine appointment while we got about our business

  13. Great post! God is good at arranging things when we least expect it. I guess we should always be ready because we never know when we can have impact.

    1. And He always seems to arrange things differently than what we’d planned, doesn’t He? That’s okay though since, if it was our way, there’d be no impact. 🙂 “…Always ready,” I like that, Julie. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  14. Brenda,
    So tickled to be reading you here today!! What a wonderful surprise. Absolutely beautiful post! I love the way you weave words and how poignant the message that God has divine appointments for us that we don’t even realize. Often they are found in the midst of our pain and discomfort. What a testimony to just being available to God and being willing to say, “Here I am, send me.”
    Blessings and ((hugs)) sweet friend,
    Bev xo

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