Colorado’s Lesson On Obedience

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I spent this past weekend in Denver. What you might not know, though, is that I lived there for a year, from August 2011-July 2012, with my best friend, Susanna. It was a fun, yet challenging, year for a multitude of reasons. I’m glad I ventured outside of my comfort zone to experience a city completely different than the only one I’ve ever known. I love Denver and loved living with my best friend, but I strongly believe that God’s hand prevented certain doors from opening while I was there and, ultimately, moved me home. I can’t know for certain the reasons, but I think it was so I could come to know Jesus and surrender to Him, spend the last fifteen months of my Momma’s life so close to her side, and to put me on the path to starting Sequins & Things. Hindsight is always 20/20 and these last couple of years have taught me how much obedience matters.


Listen to His call and obey His pull on your heart and in your life. 
It will be uncomfortable. You will cry and not understand, but it all is the way it should be and He will get you through. 
Moving home was the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted a new adventure. I wanted to start a new life somewhere outside of Jacksonville. I wanted to be one of those people who “went home” for the holidays. Moving home meant defeat. It meant failure, and it was disappointing. Above all, though, moving home meant that I had to seriously inconvenience one of the most important and special people in my life, my best friend. I hated knowing my actions would hurt her. I left feeling isolated and guilty and uncertain as to why things didn’t work out. Theodore Roosevelt hit the nail on the head when he said: “Comparison is the thief of joy”, because I couldn’t stop looking at the lives of the people I knew who moved away and were loving their new cities. I envied them. Why couldn’t it be the same way for me? Why do they get Your favor? [Ha, see … I’ve fallen victim to the lies of social media, too.]

Not long after I moved home, I accompanied a long-time friend of mine to church and it was weird. Ha, it was. But it was also crazy … crazy how I felt like it was exactly where I needed to be and how ‘at home’ I felt. I had gone to church since I was little, but always felt extremely uncomfortable and didn’t really feel like I gained much understanding from what was being taught in big church or Sunday school. I think it helped that the Pastor at this church had tattoo’s and a thick Southern accent, and deemed himself a redneck who was more unworthy of what was done on the cross than most of the people in the room. It helps to know you’re not alone in your imperfections, and I liked knowing that the crowd around me was large because they were comforted by that, too. Week after week, I found myself amongst the crowd, by myself most of the time, and couldn’t believe that I had never fully understood the gospel and how badass Jesus was. I realized that life will always be disappointing if you put your expectations and selfish wants on the throne of your heart and the center of your life, and let it all consume you. The point of this life is not me. All of these realizations broke me down, humbled me, and I decided I couldn’t live for myself anymore. I laid all of me down at His feet, put it all on His shoulders, all of the hurt, uncertainty, sadness, all of the things I wanted that didn’t go my way, and I surrendered. I started to lean on the only Bible verse I could recite verbatum at the time: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will set your paths straight.”[Proverbs 3:5-6] and started to feel more comfortable with where His hand had led me and just accepted it for what it was because I know He is good and He is faithful.

When my mom passed away, Psalm 139:13 was the verse that deepened in meaning. It was when I realized that He knew me, too. He knew my heart, my innermost being, and what would have meant more to me in the grand scheme of things. [How amazing is that? That you’re not in control? That He acts on our behalf because He knows us, intimately. I don’t know. It might make some people really uncomfortable, but it comforted me.] He also knew the nature of my mom and I’s relationship. I’ve always been pretty independent, and my mom knew that. She loved her girl, immensely, but she gave her her space. Let her do her thing. And, my mom was an introvert. She loved to learn and loved entertainment, so when she wasn’t grading papers or putting together lesson plans, she was constantly getting lost in a movie, documentary or biography, or had her nose in a book. I didn’t talk to her every single day like a lot of people do with their mom’s. She was like that best friend that you are so close with, but don’t have to talk to everyday to know that you mean the world to each other and when you do talk it’s like picking up where you left off. I’m kind of like that with a lot of people. I’m not the “clingy” type, I guess you could say. But, that’s why the closeness and being home was so perfect. It afforded us the ability to be together and enjoy each other

On the day everything happened, I was on the phone with my best friend, Susanna … Sus, for short. Our friendship had been a little rocky since I had left. She felt responsible for how unhappy I had been in Denver, and was hurt that I didn’t love the city she had fallen in love with the way she did. She wanted her best friend there, to share it all with, to make memories with, to come home to and laugh with, make dinner with, drink wine with, to keep up on shows with, etc. I completely understood her frustration. I wanted all of those things, too. I wanted it to work out, and be the way we thought it was going to be, too. It was hard to see and understand at the time that it was all completely out of her and I’s hands, that my life didn’t bloom out there the way her’s had for reasons He couldn’t disclose yet. We were both crying, that night on the phone, and she said ‘Hay, what if you had still been here?’, and it was the first time I felt the tension release between the two of us. She was right. What if I had still been in Colorado and gotten a phone call on that morning? What if I hadn’t talked to my mom since the Saturday before? What if it had been months since I had hugged her, smelled her scent, felt her presence? Since I watched her love on my Fish? Since I had her to come in and say goodnight to me? Because, let’s be real, at 27, she still made sure she did that, and I loved it. Sus and I finally had the clarity we needed. In that bittersweet moment, God was there lifting the fog and loving on us so hard, and it was certainly the only “awesome” part of that day.
I’ve shared before what I had prayed for the day my mom died and this was just one of the ways He responded. I’m so incredibly thankful for His faithfulness in restoring a friendship that means so much to me. Do I wish my Mom was still here? Of course. Do I think she had to die for Him to have done such a work in Sus and I’s friendship? Absolutely not. God is God. He could have made that possible any way He wanted. He doesn’t have to take in order to give, but this was what happened and I think it’s important to look for Him in everything – in the mountains and in the valley’s of life – because He’s there in it all and He works to make himself known to us. I’m not completely fearless, by any means, but I share this story because it restores my faith in His plan when I’m feeling a little shaky. He may not always give us what we want but He’s got us, every step of the way … in the uncomfortable, in the amazing, in the risky, in the heartbreaking, in the weird, in the uncertain and in the absolute … and He knows what He is doing, and what we need to do is get over ourselves, lean into the discomfort, and obey the pull.

P.S. I was catching up on the current sermon series tonight [o1.24.15] at my church, since I missed the last two weeks due to work and travel, and the first one I missed was inspired by Chapter 2 and 3 from the book of Exodus with Moses. In this book, the Lord speaks to him through the burning bush and told him about how is calling Him to free His people from Egypt. I couldn’t help but keep thinking about how the point ran parallel to this blog post. Toward the end, my pastor says he “fears disobedience more than he fears failure” and really brought home the point that the Lord really “delights in our obedience, not our successes”. If this blog post has really resonated with something that you’re going through, I encourage you to listen to it. You can find it here. And if you’re in the Jacksonville area, I encourage you to come check out the Church of Eleven22 on Thursday nights or at one of our Sunday services.

xo.
Hay

thoughts?

30 Comments

  1. Devin Wilber wrote:

    I wanted to let you know that you're not alone. I had a good cry in the shower the other night mourning the life I "could have had" after an instagram binge of former classmates. All my life I wanted to move to New York and was finally able to in July of 2012 in December of that same year my husband and I found out we were pregnant and decided it was best to move back to Florida, as both of our families are here. Three weeks after I moved home I found out my father had stage 4 lung, brain, and bone cancer. Right then and there I knew that God had brought me home for a reason and that life I could have had would be nothing like an amazing final year with my father or watching my son grow up with his cousins. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!

    Published 3.4.15 · Reply
  2. Heather Cole wrote:

    This post was a much need for me to read today. I know God put me in front of it to read and I felt him speaking to me through you. The timing was right on and he got my attention. I can relate to most of what you said and I wrote down the quote in my journal to remind me to listen and obey. A song came to mind that I am sure you have heard but in case not I thought I would share. "He Knows my Name" by Brit Nicole. Check it out. Have a great day and many blessings! Heather

    Published 2.6.15 · Reply
  3. Heather Cole wrote:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Published 2.6.15 · Reply
  4. Mandy wrote:

    We all have situations that require guidance and your story is so inspiring. You are the perfect role model. I enjoy reading your blog! Thank you for linking the sermons, I haven't found the church that I feel a connection with and I have been listening to the sermons they are so uplifting and have really put things into perspective for me! You have inspired me to look to Jesus for guidance, we get so caught up on ourselves that we forget that we aren't in control of our lives he is! Im in a situation where I feel stuck and like doors aren't opening for me, and you've helped reinforce that god has a plan for us and we need to trust his timing! You are a beautiful person inside and out!

    Published 1.31.15 · Reply
  5. JLacy wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your story. God is faithful!

    Published 1.24.15 · Reply
  6. Haley Shepherd wrote:

    Thank you, Mama Beez! I love you so much and hope to squeeze you soon!!! Thank you for always reading and encouraging me. Your words and love mean so very much to me. xoxox.

    Published 1.24.15 · Reply
  7. Haley Shepherd wrote:

    Will do, Hannah Kate! Thanks so much for reading! xo.

    Published 1.24.15 · Reply
  8. Haley Shepherd wrote:

    Thank you so much for reading, D! Love you to the moon! P.S. We have some trips we need to get started on planning — just realized it when I was in Denver last week! Dinner soon! xo.

    Published 1.24.15 · Reply
  9. Haley Shepherd wrote:

    Hey Gentry! It is a little scary to be so transparent, but when you love something that much, you just cannot hide it. I can't thank you enough for reading. Means so much to me! xo.

    Published 1.24.15 · Reply
  10. Haley Shepherd wrote:

    Thank you, Syd! For being a faithful reader. I know you know the hurt. Gosh, wouldn't wish it anyone, would we? But it's wonderful to know there are other gals out there who know what it's like. Hope you are enjoying every second with that gorgeous babe of yours! Congrats on becoming a momma! xo.

    Published 1.24.15 · Reply
  11. Haley Shepherd wrote:

    God's timing is so perfect. Glad He could use me to bring you just a little bit of comfort. It's so tough when our dreams just aren't in His plans, but I promise He knows you and will be faithful in His work in your life. I never knew Sequins & Things was a dream I wanted, but He put it on my heart when I moved home and I could not be more thankful and happy with where I am and what I do. To be able to reach gals like you … gosh, what a dream come true. Thank you for reading, doll. And please please please keep me updated on what He is doing in your life! Xo.

    Published 1.24.15 · Reply
  12. Haley Shepherd wrote:

    You're welcome, Allie. Thank you so much for reading. xo.

    Published 1.24.15 · Reply
  13. Haley Shepherd wrote:

    It's crazy how he works, and I'm glad you were able to see His better things because you were obedient to Him, as well. Thanks for reading. xo.

    Published 1.24.15 · Reply
  14. Haley Shepherd wrote:

    Thank you, Lindsay! xo.

    Published 1.24.15 · Reply
  15. Haley Shepherd wrote:

    You're welcome, Melissa! Thank you so much for reading. xo.

    Published 1.24.15 · Reply
  16. Haley Shepherd wrote:

    Oh, I love you so much more, Bee. Thank you for reading. Coffee date soon! xox.

    Published 1.24.15 · Reply
  17. Shaz wrote:

    Thank you so much for sharing such an intimate part of your life. You truly understand the "Lord's Plan." I love you with all my heart. Your fearlessness in your faith speaks so clearly to my heart. Your fashion sense will flourish for your faith guides your every step. You are one of the strongest woman I have been blessed to know.

    Published 1.23.15 · Reply
  18. kellyalana wrote:

    Man, the tears wouldn't stop rolling down my cheeks. I think almost every single line, I had to stop and wipe my eyes, to read on. I love you, Hay, for your openness, your clarity, your truth, your trust, your love. You are simply amazing. <3

    Published 1.23.15 · Reply
  19. Hannah Kate wrote:

    Thank you for sharing this! Keep on sharing your testimony and spreading the Gospel everywhere you go.

    xo Hannah Kate

    Published 1.22.15 · Reply
  20. Danielle Pearson wrote:

    You are amazing! Thank you for always sharing that beautiful heart of yours to all – you are a true testament of God's love and such an inspiration!! So blessed to call you my friend! Love you!

    Published 1.22.15 · Reply
  21. Girl Meets Bow wrote:

    I love love loved reading this encouraging post this morning! It's so nice that you share your heart and love for the Lord so openly! Thank you for these sweet words!

    XO,
    Gentry
    Girl Meets Bow

    Published 1.22.15 · Reply
  22. Sydnie Summerford wrote:

    Oh my goodness. I loved reading this. Love our posts about our mammas. God is good. Love your strong faith. 😘

    Published 1.22.15 · Reply
  23. Amanda Risius wrote:

    Reading this couldn't have come at a better time. I'm recently going through the same feelings and emotions you did earlier when you were in Denver. I wanted to move away and live an adventurous life so I moved out to San Francisco, my dream city. At nine months later I found myself back in my home state. It feels good knowing I'm not the only one who felt that way and that you eventually found clarity with it all. I wish you the best. xo

    Published 1.21.15 · Reply
  24. Allie wrote:

    This was amazing. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    allienotsally.blogspot.com

    Published 1.21.15 · Reply
  25. Jessica Walters wrote:

    This is such a great & beautiful post Alyson! I had a very similar experience in college, where I lived somewhere for a short time and was drive home by God for much better things. Thanks for sharing.

    xo Jessica
    http://www.afternoonstyle.com

    Published 1.21.15 · Reply
  26. Ms. Miranda Ashe wrote:

    COE22 has truly changed me, as well as, my perspective. It’s so funny how you described your first visit there because j felt the same exact way. I also grew up going to church but I never applied any of it to my life, to me church just felt like a Sunday chore. Hope to bump into you around church some day!

    Ps. “I think it helped that the Pastor at this church had tattoo’s and a thick Southern accent, and deemed himself a redneck who was more unworthy of what was done on the cross than most of the people in the room.” Can I get an AMEN?!

    Published 5.8.16 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hey Miranda!

      That’s so amazing to hear! I’m so so glad to hear that you are loving Eleven22. It’s an amazing place to call my home church. And, yes! If you ever see me there … don’t be shy! I usually go to 9:00 if I’m in town! xo.

      Published 5.9.16 ·
  27. Tammy of thentherestwo.com wrote:

    What beautiful insight! I am glad you came to know the Lord. He has been my life since I was young and even more so in my own health battles. I found this post through your most recent one via IG. Even though I am much older, I still like cute clothes!😁 PS I love your IG stories as I had dashunds myself. I also 💗 to travel too and have an acct with my own travel pics. Blessings to you! 💕

    Published 4.5.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Thank you for reading this post! It’s an oldie but a goodie! 🙂

      Published 4.5.18 ·
  28. Kelsey wrote:

    I just read through this and it excites me to see how the Lord works in others lives. It’s always so good to look back and see exactly what the Lord was doing. I love Eleven22! I’ve visited one of the campuses and know the student pastor at another. Amazing things happening through the church body. Encourages me to see that this is where you encountered Jesus!

    Published 4.11.18 · Reply