January 26, 2018

Directionally Challenged - Marnie Pohlmann

As we left the store, his hand on my elbow gently pulled me to the left, correcting my path. I fell into step with him and he grinned. His hand slid down my arm to my hand and we continued our way around the mall. We've been married almost 37 years now, so he is used to me turning the wrong way no matter where we are or whether I am walking or driving.

Last year a friend was giving us a lift to the hospital. He asked if we went all the way into town or took another road. I said, "I turn at the flags" as my husband gave the street name. "Flags?" both men challenged. "Yes," I defended, "those flags right there!" The flags I used as a marker were on the corner of the street my husband had named. I could see both men shaking their heads and quietly laughing at me.

I guess I am directionally challenged.
Are you a logical, by-the-street-signs traveler or is your propensity, like mine, to watch for landmarks? Are you always aware of your path, or just naturally turn to the right when exiting any room?

Please, if you give me directions, don't just give me just an address, or tell me to go three blocks north. I don't know where north is. I need different specifics. Give me the address, but then tell me to go straight until I see the red house with the wrap-around porch, then turn right. Yes, yes, I could use Google maps or a GPS unit, but really, do you trust them? I know for my own home it takes people to the wrong side of the golf course, so without my additional description, they would be lost.

Also, turning right is safer than turning left, and you can still end up going the correct direction because three rights make a left. Right?

This year I also seem to be directionally challenged in both my writing and my faith.

I have had difficulty deciding what way to go this year. Is this a year to run ahead to see what is around the next corner? Or a year to rest, breathe deeply, and appreciate the present surroundings? Should I dig into an exegetical Bible study? Start a new way of reading through the Bible in a year? Do I have time for both? Should I focus on writing blog posts, work through a course, or work on another languishing project?

Do I sound out of touch with God, and maybe myself? 
It feels like that some days. However, I trust the process God has often used in my life. Finding my way with a flashlight through the bush at night to a camp washroom. That's how God has worked in my life.

When I focus the flashlight beam on my feet, I see my next step. It is immediate and safer than tripping over tree roots. But it's only one step at a time. I don't see the bigger picture so I may turn right, onto a rabbit trail under low-hanging branches. Or I may unexpectedly run into a bear. Oh, my!

When I lift the flashlight, more of the path is illuminated giving me a better idea of where I am going. But now I may stumble more often on the rough path.

God's Word works like a flashlight in the dark.

Psalm 107:105 says,
"Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

A lamp to my feet, so I don't fall over rough ground. A light to my path to illuminate a larger purpose in my life. The light does not give the whole picture, showing me the end, and I may still encounter difficult situations or rocky times. Yet God is leading me. He is with me on the journey. He always has been with me, and I trust Him to continue leading me.

 This year I may be directionally challenged, with no specific plans for writing or life, but as I meditate on God's Word, He will place his hand on my elbow and gently direct me. His Word will shine a lamp on my writing steps and a light on my faith as we continue through 2018.

photos courtesy of Stephanie Pohlmann and Pixabay.com

Marnie walks with God and writes from a small town on Highway 97, the Alaska Highway, past Dawson Creek at Mile Zero, a few miles past the turn to the curved Old Kiskatinaw Bridge, down a steep hill with a beautiful view, across a scary metal bridge, arriving at Mile 36. This is where you will find the sister town of North Pole, Alaska, a friendly church, wonderful recreational facilities including a professional golf course, and friendly people. If you arrive in Fort St John, you've gone too far and need to turn around. Visit Marnie's blog Phosphorescent.


  1. Marnie I was with you in this through to the end! I relate to it ALL. I too feel like I'm using the flashlight in the bush, just shining at my feet so I don't stumble in both my writing and my life. I loved how you brought out the point in the verse that God gives us both a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (larger view)....sometimes I'm so busy looking at my feet I don't even look up to see that God has lightened my path some too. But yes, even then there will be stumbles.
    ps. I loved your author description at the end of where you live. It makes me feel like finding you! I too need many descriptive landmarks. I wonder if that doesn't also play out in the way we write?
    By the way, you'll find me in a cozy log house on the edge of the quaint little village of Caron, pop 125 just a mile off the Trans Canada #1. If you're coming from the West turn right at the smelly dairy farm which is right across from the Dog (my 6 yr old grand-daughters way of describing the Husky gas station lol) and travel down the bumpy pavement, keeping a look out for deer. Cross the train tracks and down the gravel road and take a right turn round the dipped corner and you'll see us right beside our big red shop. Thanks for the fun exercise.

    1. Haha! Love this Gloria. having been to Caron, I can now find your house!

    2. Haha, Gloria, your directions are great. Someday I will come find you! I realize that even going for a walk I look at my feet more than where I am going. And if I try to watch a bird in a tree while I'm walking by I lose my balance. God's light helps us walk purposefully while also enjoying His beauty around us, doesn't it?

  2. Oops it might also be good to include that Caron is in Saskatchewan...also known as the prairies; that somewhat flat, but also surprisingly hilly province between ALberta and Manitoba ;)

  3. I loved this, Marnie! The flashlight analogy is brilliant - and so relevant! Then I got to yoru description of how to get to your house and I really did laugh out loud!
    I don't even know where to begin giving directions to my house. Sheesh!

    1. Giving directions is a whole different exercise than following directions. If you need directions, ask Wally. LOL or I will be telling you to turn right when you should turn West. 😉

  4. As usual, Marnie, your writing entertains and teaches. Thanks. From my experience, city residents usually give the address and let you figure out how to find the place. In rural areas, including small towns, we generally give directions that include "go past the Legion," turn right at KFC corner, etc., but I haven't heard any directions as detailed and colourful as yours, dear writing friend, except for, possibly, Gloria Guest's.

    I love your details in directions. I also appreciate, your pointing out that Psalm 107: 105 explains that God's Word can give light for our very next step and also "illuminate a larger purpose in (one's) life." Perhaps you are not as directionally challenged as you think!

    1. You are correct about city vs country folk. Most cities are laid out in a grid system so a street number directs you to the right quadrant (I cannot for the life of me figure that out, though.)
      Once Wally was taking the kids to see an elk farm and was given the direction to turn left at the white church. There's a bench outside the door. Unfortunately, there were TWO white churches with benches! He turned at the first one and became lost. The direction giver meant the second one. Such a small detail...
      Thanks for your encouragement to continue to find my way.

    2. I love this post Marnie. I relate to it so much. I am wondering something. Are we "directionally challenged." Perhaps we are more "landmark observant." I go by landmarks most often too. Addresses are nice but north and south etc. is too confusing. Right or left, or up there or over there makes more sense to me when I travel. I always admire Terry when she may be driving to somewhere we are not sure about. She will ask me to get out our map book and see if some street goes north etc. It is so cute when she looks at me and asks if I found the street on the map yet. All the while I'm looking for a give away landmark. It keeps our travels interesting.

      There was a line that caught my attention. It says, Also, turning right is safer than turning left, and you can still end up going the correct direction because three rights make a left. Right? This seems like a stroke of genius. Brilliant, is what it is. Now I have try it out.

      I also like when you said, "God's Word works like a flashlight in the dark." I see great value in keeping this in mind. Sometimes my light dims and I know I am off track. I have to get myself back on the path God has for me and take one step at a time. Especially over the past few months it is good to be reminded God is with us on the journey. Thank you for your post Marnie.

      If you and Wally come our way again, stop in for coffee. Here are some directions. If coming via Abbotsford drive across the bridge into Mission, pass the strip mall, turn right on to the over pass, turn right, stay on the highway, pass the lake, drive past the gas station, cross the train tracks, cross the little bridge, drive past the Fire Hall, drive by the corn fields on either side, go past Ross Rd., turn right at Oasis Country Etates, (which is across from the big tree the eagles sit in), drive past the park, turn right, we are number 99 which is where you will see our red Toyota Corolla in the driveway. We'll have the coffee on. Do you like muffins?

      Thank you again for a great post Marnie!

    3. Alan, you make me smile :D
      I believe the 3 rights make a left is something taught to senior drivers, because statistically left turns are more dangerous. The timing of oncoming traffic is tricky sometimes.
      Definitely when (if) we come down we will follow your directions to you. I hope we see the eagles sitting in the tree. Might stop for a picture :)

  5. I can relate to your challenge, Marnie. I also need what Alan referred to as, "landmark observant" and as what I refer to as, "points of interest." Without them I would be lost. God is very much a point of interest in my life and when I stay focused on him so when I feel lost I know that I won't be for very long. I love your post!

    1. Thanks, Vicki. Yes, focus is very important in driving and relationship with God. As I daydream or have other distractions I do lose focus and get lost. It's good to choose God-landmarks, too, to focus on His path.


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