Prodigal Magazine

One of the things I had to leave behind.

I woke up this morning and absolutely nothing happened. My alarm didn’t ring, I didn’t silence it. I didn’t reach for my small leather bound ESV on the nightstand by the bed.

In fact, my nightstand wasn’t even by the bed.

Instead, there was another piece of furniture there.

A dingy, white-washed three-drawer chest, drawers empty, aside from a piece of paper with a few numbers printed on it. Numbers I had placed there because, as hard as I had tried in the three weeks I had lived here, I couldn’t remember them.

After that I didn’t put on my running shoes, as I normally would have. I didn’t leave the house, didn’t shower, didn’t make my usual pot of French Press. I looked in the walk-in closet, exploding with boxes and unfolded clothes, stared at my brand new husband asleep in our bed.

His chest rose and fell, rose and fell in a very particular rhythm that was typical of him. It would, very soon I hoped, become familiar to me, calming, predictable and steady, like a metronome.

Sun poured in through the sliding glass door in the living room, until it had nearly painted the whole room yellow, but I didn’t sit myself right down in the middle of it, legs crossed, laptop open, door cracked, so as not to miss a minute of the warmth and light.

I didn’t even have a laptop anymore.

It was one of the things I had to leave behind.

Along with this tool set my dad had bought me for Christmas a few years back. There was a screwdriver, a pair of scissors, a hammer – all cheap and flimsy – but there were flowers on the handles, and I had used them to hang my own pictures and to fix a problem with my closet door this one time, and so leaving them behind felt a little funny.

I had tried to bring them with me.

I’d shoved them in the zipper pocket on the lid of my suitcase, one wrapped in a sweatshirt, one among swimsuits, one stuck down the toe of a shoe. But when my husband lifted the suitcase onto the scale at check-in, and it read 75, I didn’t even need a Continental Representative to tell me. I knew what I had to do.

Flower tools and two bottles of red wine – wedding gifts from my husband – left in the garbage at Portland International.

None of it phased me at the time – leaving the tools, the wine, leaving Portland, the getting on a plane to move to a city 3000 miles away – although, if you asked my husband he would probably tell you it did.

I was acting funny, he said. I’m not acting funny, I told him. I’m fine.

But now as I stood here in our new apartment in a new city, suitcases still half-unpacked and boxes bursting with clothes that seemed too long and too heavy and too clunky for the new life I was living, I was feeling kind of funny. I wasn’t sure what to do.

So I did nothing.

Normally, I would have gone for a run. That would have cleared my head. But my running shoes were buried and my body felt heavy and bloated from travel and it was at least 40 degrees warmer outside than I was used to this time of year.

I didn’t feel like running.

Normally, I would have brewed a pot of French Press and sat down with a steaming cup and a favorite book in my favorite blue chair. I would have looked out the window watching the rain. But here there was no rain, no need for steaming coffee, and someone else was the proud new owner of my favorite blue chair.

Besides, I wasn’t sure what boxes were what, which books were where.

Normally, I would have cleaned and cleaned. Dumped out every box, folded every piece of laundry, obsessed over every decision until every last item had a home and it was in it. Then I’d be able to relax.

But now I had a husband, and he was sleeping, and he had been working so hard, I couldn’t bear to wake him.

Normally, I would have written, spilled my guts onto a page, word by word, until I had said everything I wanted to say but never wanted anyone to read, that is, until a few days later when someone finally convinced me to share it with a few thousand strangers on my blog.

But today there was no more blog, no more friendly strangers to comment on my oddly normal life.

I had traded my blog for a wedding – a pretty good trade if I do say so myself. I had run out of time and energy to mull over every passing thought and to turn it into something worth sharing.

I hadn’t yet figure out how to pin down, in 800 words, each day, the new life that I was living.

There was nothing normal about this. Nothing.

Or maybe there was.

It’s normal, I think, to struggle through difficult transitions. It’s normal, when God asks you to step out of your comfort zone to say, like a school-aged child, being forced to finish his vegetables, “Dad, do I have to?”

Yes, you have to, the dad will say. I’m your dad. I know what’s good for you. I’ve got you. Eat your vegetables.
You’ll be okay.

So on a morning when I would have done a million things – from exercise to grocery shopping to coffee with a friend – I just sat there and did nothing. And suddenly, in the silence of the morning, as the sun poured in and my husband slept peacefully in our bed, I started to hear something.

It’s normal. You’re normal. I heard Him say to me.

Change is hard. Transition is hard. I get it. But I need you to trust me.

The whole world sort of stopped, like someone hit the pause button.

Transition is a funny place because there’s no real way to hurry it. It exists as long as it wants to, as long as it has to, before the next thing begins.

  • It’s the blank space between repetitions, the slight rest of the pendulum between swings to the right and to the left.
  • It’s the clock winding up for another few months of tick-tocking.
  • It’s the fresh and rested restaurant night crew eagerly coming on shift.

There’s this awkward moment where no one knows which table belongs to whom – this sort of hold-your-breath piece of time where you hope everything works out the way it’s should.

Things just seem to hang in the balance.

Transition might not be cozy, but it’s necessary. It’s the only way. Think about it. There is no other way to start something new. Without transition, it would just be the same old thing over and over and over again. How boring would that be?

Praise God for transition.

Praise God that I don’t have to do what I’ve always done, I don’t have to be who I’ve always been.
Praise God for the things that He has done and the things that He is about to do, and the things in the future that are beyond what I could even dream.

Praise God for the rest in-between.

For Prodigal Magazine, this is start of the pendulum’s next swing. We can feel it, building momentum and picking up pace while we swoop into the deepest, most meaningful part of action. The pause is over. The rest was needed. But now we are in it. Will you join us?This is the start of something significant.

Is change and transition something you dread or look forward to? What are things that you do to manage those seasons?

About The Author

Allison is a writer, managing editor of Prodigal Magazine and author of Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage (Moody, 2013). She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband Darrell. You can follow her daily on Twitter or Facebook.

  • Kathy Molitor

    Dear Allie, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your posts! I love your writing style, and and since I’m a stickler about grammar, and typos, I’m impressed with your work about that too! Transition. We have been in it for several months, and it is very, very uncomfortable. We are in a process, orchestrated by God, and are not sure when it will be over, nor where we will be living or what we will be doing in the next season of life. Did I say it is quite uncomfortable? Well, keep up the good work….and maybe you need to write a book someday. I would surely read it. Give that husband a hug from the Molitors. We think he’s pretty special!

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

       Kathy — thanks for your encouragement! My husband is a very special guy, I agree. And I’m working on that book project. We’ll keep you in the loop :)

  • http://mosleyprophoto.com Daniel Mosley

    You are so right Ally! Change is a difficult but necessary part of our life, especially as Christian believers. If our faith is indeed to be modeled after the biblical heroes, we see that this life requires significant risk – stepping out, making bold moves – following an inner-leading that rarely reveals the details beyond our next step.

    Congrats to you and Darrell and high-five for having the courage to make such a radical move. You’ll find your groove soon.

    I’m looking forward to Prodigal Magazine’s new direction. It does feel like the start of something significant.

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      Thanks Daniel. You guys definitely know the risk-taking drill. Can’t wait to have you guys with us here in Florida. Thanks for reading Prodigal!

  • http://ramblingbarba.com Ken Hagerman(The Barba)

    Congrats on the fresh launch. We have been in a constant state of change for bout 3 years. I’m not much of a change guy either. We moved to Paraguay, South America to be missionaries. I had surprise open-heart surgery to fix a defective valve I didn’t know about. We had to leave our ministry effort of 2 years suddenly to be near the hospital because my wife was hit by a truck and shattered her femur. Now we are recovered more or less and our home of the last year is not where God wants us, so we hold interviews for perspective locations. This time though we have two teenage daughters who have a voice in our move. We want to be exactly where HE wants us but it is tough to know for sure sometimes. In the midst of the instability God stabilizes our spirit if not our circumstance.

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      Ken — wow, sounds like God has walked you and your family through a lot of challenges. I’m sure you’ve found (like we have) that, at the same time He stabilizes your spirit, he also grows you and teaches you to rely on Him. That’s so good. Thanks for reading and for sharing.

  • Ryan Van Houten

    After reading this the first word that came to mind is “steadfast.” God is steadfast and though the tempo of our lives may change, He calls us into His steadfastness to find rest. I smile to feel as if I have experienced so much in my life, highs and lows, though I am only nearing 25 years in age. While God is steadfast He remains outside of time so to us we see the changes in our life slowly but surely. He continues to craft us as He chips away the old and decaying pieces until we are complete in His image like Christ, a Masterpiece! The Truth is we are already in His image and it is just time for us to embrace the new and let go of the old…for God has us exactly where He wants us to be…in His presence!

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      Ryan, that’s so true. God uses difficult circumstances to teach us, more than anything else! For that reason we can be thankful for our trials (James 1). Thanks for sharing!

  • Louise

    Yay I’m so glad you guys are writing again! I’ve missed reading your blog Ally. I definitely find transition hard…really dread it. Just found out this week that I’m moving again in April (moved in December) which is kind of a pain. Especially as I’m not sure where I’m going yet! But as I’m not very adaptable it’s probably good for me to practise before major life changes later in life.

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      Louise — As you’re moving, remember that God doesn’t ask you to face difficult circumstances without also giving you the tools you need to handle them. I’ll be praying for a smooth transition in your move! Glad you’re still reading. 

  • Ann Menke

    This is so fantastic! Way to go Ally! Way to let our Father give you peace and calm your heart and to let the Holy Spirit speak to you and share your words. You truly have received a gift of writing. Thank you for sharing!

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

       Thanks Ann! So glad you’re reading. Fun to see your name show up here.

  • http://ashleighdean.posterous.com ashleigh dean

    Wow. I’m so stoked for the launch of this magazine, and to hear from the Vesterfelts! I can’t wait to hear more about your journey. Thank you for sharing your stories!!

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      Thanks Ashleigh! Good to know you’re still following. We’re so happy to be sharing our stories, once again.

  • http://www.reflectiverambling.blogspot.com Monica

    I’m trying to find words to reflect how I feel after reading this article, but there are such mixed emotions. Transition is strange, and I always feel like I’m in some sort of transition phase in my life. What I’ve found difficult is living in the moments of transition and trying not to feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s so frustrating. But, praise God for transition, and change, and not having to do the same thing every day, and for his steadfast love that sees us through the mountains and valleys of our lives. Most of my transitions have been relatively minor (though they usually feel like the world is conspiring to frustrate me and make me feel stuck), but I’m preparing for a huge transition in just over a year. Chances are, I’ll be going from Toronto to live in LA. This post affirmed that it won’t be easy, I’ll leave a lot of things behind, and I’ll have what-am-I-doing-where-and-when-the-eff-did-this-happen mornings. It also comforted me, though, into realizing that God’s going to se me through the transition. Thanks for the dose of reality and encouragement.

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      Monica — you’re welcome, and don’t be afraid of the transition. It’s difficult at times but it’s also really fun and exciting! The challenges just give us an opportunity to build our strength. Like working out. You know?

  • http://shewritesandrights.blogspot.com bethany

    You knocked your first article out of the park, friend. I totally understand your emotions in this transition. So glad to be a part of the Prodigal Team!

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      Thankful for you, Bethany.

  • http://www.worleyhouseblog.com Andrea Worley

    This is great. Transition is inevitable at times, it can be hard to navigate these waters. I love what you’ve said. I lead a women’s group for pastors/ministry wives in transition every month and i want to share this w/them.

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

       Andrea — share away! Happy that this resonated with you.

  • http://wsfirst.com Nodjie

    I loved your writing; transitions happen all through life no matter how old we are! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings! We pray God richly blesses and leads you and Darrell joyfully in this new turn in the road! Happy trails, Nodjie w Global Compassion ministries @ wsfirst and also Bridges Christian College

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      Thank you Nodjie! It was great to meet you in North Carolina. Blessings to you and thanks for reading.

  • Brittany Cornett

    I awoke this morning to snow on the ground- in March- in Portland of all places. I woke up after very few hours of sleep. I lay awake until the wee hours of the morning, thinking and praying. Contemplating where in the world He is guiding me. You see I am having a lot of doors close for me at the moment, and I am shutting them as well.

    I am restless. Far, far, far too restless, and I have felt completely lost in this transition.

    Reading these words,
    “Praise God that I don’t have to do what I’ve always done, I don’t have to be who I’ve always been.
    Praise God for the things that He has done and the things that He is about to do, and the things in the future that are beyond what I could even dream.”

    Turned me upside down. Why didn’t I think about that? Why didn’t I look at this as positive and exciting- a time to be molded, and formed. A time to really be the woman He has created me to be.

    I now will hopefully rest my head on my pillow tonight trusting once again that this transition is a good one.

    Thank you dear Vesterfelts for reminding me that “Transition might not be cozy, but it’s necessary. It’s the only way. Think about it. There is no other way to start something new. Without transition, it would just be the same old thing over and over and over again. How boring would that be?”

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      Brittany, you rock. There is purpose in the transition, even if you feel “lost”. Even that feeling of being lost is teaching you. None of it is without reason. Can’t wait to have you at our home in Florida.

  • http://www.tonyjalicea.com Tony J. Alicea

    So, so good Ally.

    “Praise God for the things that He has done and the things that He is about to do, and the things in the future that are beyond what I could even dream.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      Thanks Tony. Thankful for you and your wife — you’ve made the transition much more enjoyable.

  • http://katiemaesdailies.blogspot.com Katie A

    You have written my story right now better than I ever could have. I feel like I am in one transition after another. It’s like a game of red light/green light, but with extraordinarily long yellow lights. Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for being such an amazing new friend and inspiration.

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      Katie — yes, I feel like you and I are kindred spirits in this way. I feel so thankful that Darrell and I have connected with you. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • http://www.cross-platform.org John

    Hi Ally! As someone who’s facing the prospect of change and transition myself, thanks for the reminder that it’ll be alright on the other side. Looking forward to seeing what you and Darrel do with Prodigal!

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      John, thanks! Yes, it will be alright on the other side. Transition is worth it.

  • http://turnerbethany.wordpress.com Bethany Turner

    Love this post. It describes a lot of what I have been feeling recently as well. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

       You’re welcome! Happy it encouraged you.

  • Jodi Stilp

    Beautiful post Ally (do I have to call you Allison?!?!). You capture so well that awkward but beautiful place of two lives melding into one new adventure. I pray often for you and Darrell and miss you very much. Love you!

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      Jodi — haha, no you can call my Ally. Thanks for reading, praying and commenting!

  • AshleyM.

    “It’s normal. You’re normal.” // How refreshing to read! I’ve been in a constant transition for the last year and a half and it’s difficult to NOT feel out of place or strange when everything around you carries on as normal.

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      Ashley — so glad this resonated with you. You are normal — I promise! Thank God for the transition and what it is teaching you.

  • Stephanie

    This was such a good post! I’m in the midst of transition right now. It’s hard but I know it’s necessary to get to place God has for me. Thank you for being so real!

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/ Ally Vesterfelt

      You’re welcome! We’re all about being real. Wouldn’t want to do it any other way :)