When You Want a Warm Place to Wait


The chalkboard at the park ranger’s station at the entrance gate announces that 371 manatees have been spotted today.

I’m eager to see them.

I've never been to Blue Spring Park on the St. Johns River, but I've heard that this is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of these big sea creatures.


When the weather turns cool, manatees travel from other waterways in the south to this spot in Florida where a hot spring makes the water temperature stay at 72 degrees all year long.

Because so many manatees gather here at the same time, it's an opportunity to see them up close in their natural setting.


I follow the crowd down to the dock where a tour boat is boarding passengers and weave through onlookers in time to see a couple of manatees swim by.

I didn't get a good look and worry that I missed the best chance to see them.

But the park has a mile-long boardwalk that parallels the water and now I notice there are large packs of manatees swimming just below the surface. They meander along, flapping their wide tails and occasionally come up for air.

They look remarkably alike to me and I wonder how the park rangers would know there are exactly 371 manatees swimming today?

I don't know if there's some sort of mysterious manatee numeration method used to make these calculations, but I do know that here in this warm water haven the manatees spend the winter and wait for spring to come.


I think about how nice it would be to have a warm place to wait for the arrival of a new season.

In a world filled with useful gadgets and technological conveniences that tell us waiting is wasted, God tells us that waiting is worthy of our consideration.

In his upside-down world, waiting is an activity {as oxymoronic as it sounds} to embrace, not avoid. Because those of us who wait learn the priceless practice of noticing what can easily be missed in the middle of life's bustle.

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. - Is. 64:4




But waiting and all of its accompanying emotions and feelings, reactions and responses can be magnificent. Waiting spaces are the places to see God's plans for us unfold and bloom.

Waiting invites us to more deeply appreciate what comes after the wait, and the strength and resilience and persistence and determination that are forged while waiting is a gift we take with us when we move forward.

When I'm in a hurry, God is not. Even when I think it's too late or time is running out, he shows me that nothing is impossible with him.


Like these manatees I'm watching basking in the warmth of their winter home, I might want to settle into a warm spot too while I wait for a change.

Now if only the manatees resembled this bright mosaic posed on the boardwalk for photo opps with tourists, I could definitely see how they'd be pretty easy to count.



I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart.



Comments

  1. Gosh, I do love it here, Valerie. Your blue-green beautiful shots warm my soul. And your description of those waiting seasons resonates some place deep. This is where my disappointment and impatience so easily flourish.

    No wonder God lets me dwell there awhile. I need to trust Him with those moments ... and be still and quiet long enough to hear what He's inviting me to.

    Bless you for your wisdom and kindness, girl ...

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    1. Hi Linda,
      So glad you enjoyed the photos and I can relate to feelings of disappointment and impatience while waiting. I think it's true what you say about God inviting us there for awhile -- it's really for our good but sometimes we don't see it that way, do we? So glad to see your words here, friend! xo

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  2. Dear Valerie... how I have missed coming here to read your lovely posts! And how coincidental you should write on waiting today... Lots of waiting on God's timing and word out here lately and this song, "Take Courage" has been stuck in my head for a week... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--PD4lKFqv0 .....Then on Sunday, my prayer partner passed me this quote by Spurgeon: "The waiting itself if beneficial to us; it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission and endears the blessing when it comes." All that to say, I'm here waiting with you friend... and when we know we're not alone, well that makes it so much better. Bless you sweet friend! xoxo

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    1. Hi Heather,
      It seems like so long since I've read your words over at your place, although I can see from FB you've been quite busy of late! :) Thank you for the song link -- I can't wait to check it out -- but I already know it's good since music is your gift and specialty. Hoping your seasons of waiting are inviting you to strengthen your faith too -- always thinking of you! xo

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  3. Dear Valerie,
    Oh, your photos make me homesick for my son & his family down there, since they went to see the manatees this winter also! You've captured such beautiful photos though, that I feel like I was able to be there for a few moments too. And this waiting game? Well, your thoughts here mirror my own: "Waiting strains my patience and waters down my confidence." Wow. While my #oneword for this new year is "sufficient," God asked me to follow Him in the first lesson "to be patient." Your words here about waiting have opened my heart to see His reasoning with me even more. May I embrace the waiting also, my friend! Thank you for your encouragement today! Love and Hugs! xoxo

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    1. Hi Bettie,
      Oh I love your word for this year -- sufficient -- it reminds me that even if I don't feel that I'm strong enough -- God will make up the difference and multiply what I already have. The manatees are quite the attraction this time of year so I'm glad your son and his family got to see them too! Praying for you in this new year that you will find improved strength and health! xo

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  4. My mom-in-law lives in Homasassa and we visit every year in late February. We visit Homasassa Springs Wildlife State Park - where the water is warm and the Manatees a-plenty! Seeing them up close with their propeller wounds and gashes is kind of sad. Waiting is never comfortable for us, is it? The water is rarely warm and unfortunately we often find ourselves alone. Great post! xo

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    1. Hi Susan,
      Seeing so many manatees in one place is quite the experience and I'm sure you will enjoy your upcoming visit here! I bet you can't wait! xo

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  5. Every time we go boating I look for these sea cows but just when I think I see one bobbing near the water's surface we get closer and I see it's a coconut! I'm taking your words on waiting to heart. I've been having trouble with this lately. I should say, more than usual. Thanks for your gracious setting to frame these words of wisdom.

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    1. Debby,
      I had to laugh at you finding coconuts instead of manatees -- but I think the coconuts would be fun to find too! :) Thank you so much for your encouraging words here today -- they always mean more than you know! xo

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  6. I love the photos of the manatees, Valerie, and your words encouraged me today. I'm in the middle of a period of waiting that is dragging on way longer than I hoped or expected but this reminds me to trust God's timing and to embrace the lessons he wants to teach me during the wait.

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    1. Hi Lesley,
      I can so relate on how those waiting times drag on -- and drag us down with them sometimes! But isn't God's timing impeccable? It seems he is never rushed, never in a hurry, but always on time. Praying for you, friend! xo

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  7. You have refreshed my heart today, Valerie. I looked up where Homasassa Springs is and showed my hubby your beautiful photos. I told him, "This is where I want to live!" :) I would love to sit in that warm spring and enjoy the wildlife around there. But I will be content to just imagine myself in your photos. :) I love your insight into the value and benefits of waiting. It's so true that we can "learn the priceless practice of noticing what can easily be missed in the middle of life's bustle." I will try to wait patiently and notice. Meanwhile, thank you for this warm place to wait! Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Hi Trudy,
      Well, come on down and move to Florida! :) You are most welcome here! Since you have a deep love for wildlife and plants and flowers, I think you would so enjoy the scenery here. Patience is not one of my gifts but waiting shows me the way to improve and in the process even relish the times when things don't happen as quickly as I'd like. And I'm always glad to offer you a warm spot -- we've got plenty of those in Florida, just waiting for you!! xo

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  8. So, I'm not sure if my last comment made it through Google. Hopefully I can remember what I shared. ;) So many thoughts passed through my mind as I read your words. First, when we worry, we are not choosing to wait well. Worry leads us to not trust God and His perfect plans for us. When we're worrying we are trying to control, aren't we?

    Second, I love all the benefits there are in the waiting seasons. When we wait with anticipation for what God is going to do, it's easier to release the worry to His hands. When we wait with intention, God can draw us deeper into relationship with Him. When we wait yielded, He works those heart changes within us that enable us to more accurately reflect Him.

    Beautiful post, Valerie!

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    1. Hi Jeanne,
      Thanks for your persistence to rewrite your comment here! :) There's so much for your thoughts on worrying since it's so closely related to waiting, isn't it? I love how you articulated it that we're not waiting well because we're not trusting that God's plans are good for us -- there's so much truth there. Waiting with intention is definitely a work of the heart and one worth pursuing. So glad you're here today! xo

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  9. Such a good post, Valerie! Patience is something I REALLY struggle with... I tend to forget that God has no stopwatch and that He is not bound by time. Those manatees look pretty chill there and I think I can learn from them. Make the most of enjoying the blessings of the here and now :) Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Laura,
      Thanks so much for popping over here to visit! I always appreciate your encouragement!

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  10. That sounds amazing to see and your pictures are gorgeous! Yeah, I would love to hang out with manatees while I wait :)

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    1. Sarah,
      Loving that thought . . . having out with manatees! :)

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  11. Val, this post is perfect for a loved one in my husband's family who has been waiting to see if her husband can recover from a very bad health scare and has not left his side at the hospital for the past 10 days. I will surely share it with her, thank you!

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    1. Hi Kelli,
      I'm so grateful for your kind words and I hope she is encouraged!

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  12. Oh, how your words resonated with me! Especially, this..."But maybe what the uncomfortable and difficult time of waiting offers is really what I need before taking the next step on my life's journey." My family and I are in such an uncomfortable season of waiting on the Lord, and it can feel like the time is so wasted, as you said. But, I am going to choose to believe that what this time is offering us is exactly what we need before taking the next step. Please keep us in your prayers, my friend. I am praying for you every, single day and looking forward to what God has for you in your next season after this wait. I know it is going to be amazing!

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    1. Hi Cheryl,
      I am thinking of you often and hoping that you are experiencing peace through these recent difficult days in your family -- I am keeping you in my prayers, too and I cherish yours for me! Somehow I hope we look back and see that our waiting seasons may have been our best days -- most difficult -- but best because God was so near to us! xoxo

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  13. Oh wow those photos!! Everything about this is so beautiful, Valerie! You are so right, too. Waiting is hard for us and waiting certainly strains my patience. Yet these waiting seasons give us so much. And the best thing is, that God is right there with us in those waiting seasons.

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    1. Hi Ronja,
      I wish I had thought to weave your insight into my post -- yes, I'm so grateful that God is with us through our waiting seasons, and every day of our lives! Sending love to you! xoxo

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  14. Hi Valerie,
    So happy for time to visit! What amazing pictures and what a beautiful place! So many manatees! I would love to have seen that! Thanks for sharing this adventure. I love your thoughts too. It has been so cold here this winter a warm place sounds so good. I think waiting is so hard! I sometimes loose heart and think I have been forgotten. But I think you are right that the waiting seasons stretch us in beautiful ways and things are grown there that can’t be grown any other way. Its easier to see that after the waiting is over but while I am in it feels grueling sometimes. The best part is He is there in the waiting and is waiting to be found by us there. Such beauty here as always Valerie!! sending love and hugs

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    1. Hi Susie,
      I think you would have loved to paint the manatees too! I can only imagine how you would have captured the water and their lovable but homely faces :) you should make a trip to investigate the possibilities for your next work of art! Sending love to you too! xoxo

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  15. Oh my goodness! That mosaic is crazy! I was right along with you as you visited the park, seeking the manatees (which I didn't know existed until now). Yes, it would be lovely to have our waiting times be one of warm waters and comfort! But I can struggle in those waters, unnecessarily too. "Waiting spaces are the places to see God's plans for us unfold and bloom." To be present in the waiting. Such comfort just in those words Valerie! Thank you!

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