Traveling to or through

I spend hours on the road commuting to and from work. Since I drive interstates and the toll road, I see lots of trucks.  Trucks travel miles through towns, counties, and states on the road to a destination. 

As a kid, I was fortunate to grow up with parents who loved to travel. Although we flew occasionally, I actually preferred to do cross country road trips. We traveled miles, and I loved looking out the window at the passing scenery. Some vacations if we had time, we would stop at unplanned destinations as we passed through somewhere. Those were some of my favorite memories.

Are you traveling through or traveling to?
In life, we all go through struggles and challenging times on the way to a destination. Maybe this destination is a much hoped for new job, college courses to your degree, a relationship, the quest to buy a new home, or a million other things. While this journey may be painful, if we are paying attention, there are lessons to be learned as we go through the journey. 

Some of the most difficult moments in my life as I struggled through on my way to something greater have taught me the most amazing lessons. For example, the painful journey through my anxiety struggles these past few months have taught me coping strategies. The journey through has brought me to a greater sense of peace. 

Don’t miss the scenery as you pass through on the way to your destination. There are lessons to be learned along the way. If we look, we can always find something meaningful along the way. 

Redefining Vacation

My cousins and I were having a conversation last weekend about our views of what vacation should entail. They named off sightseeing, shopping, amusement parks…Those kinds of things. My thoughts on vacation are much different. My children are older, so I don’t feel the need to entertain them as much on vacation.

Vacation growing up was cramming as many sights into as few days as possible.  I love that my parents have taken me to so many states. I appreciate the experiences I have had.

My husband has given me another view of vacation, though, and it has been a true gift. He has taught me the value of rest and doing nothing. Sure, we enjoy taking in the sights especially natural beauty such as Yellowstone, the Great Smokey Mountains, and beaches, but we enjoy simply resting. I have learned to be content sitting by the beach or leisurely riding a bike. I find peace in rocking in a wooden rocker on the deck of a mountain cabin with my morning coffee and devotions.

Life is busy and fast paced. It is busy physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Vacation provides time to detach from the daily bustle, to reconnect with family and friends without the typical distractions, and offers an opportunity to be still.

To settle my soul before God.

I long for quiet. For moments of stillness. 

I don’t desire glamorous vacations with cruise ships and exciting ports with activities. I crave quiet. Simple moments of laughter over board games with my son. Slow paced mornings over the Word with coffee.
I need to learn how to capture the moments of stillness into everyday life. 

I need to give myself permission to rest.

I am looking forward to a few days away in a few weeks. I am looking forward to the seclusion of a mountain cabin. I am looking forward to time with my family and friend. I am craving quiet and stillness.

The definition of vacation is an extended period of recreation. I am exchanging the word recreation for rest. 

Vacation is less about seeing the world and more about reconnecting with my world. 

Our extended weather forecast looks rainy. I know weather forecasts can change daily but I am fine with rain. I am looking forward to reading, writing, board games, laughter, cooking together, sleeping in, conversation, and morning coffee and devotions on the deck. If we never leave the cabin, I will be fine.

Jesus acknowledged the importance of quietness. 
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place where they could be alone. Mark 6:31-32 NLT

If quiet rest is important to Jesus, then it should be important to me.

Learning to rest is a journey I am on. I encourage you to find your own journey of quiet rest.

31 Days of Gratitude: Small Town Living 

This is my current situation:

Driving through Chicago on a Friday night at rush hour…

While I love the culture that the city offers and the variety of restaurants, my heart belongs to small town living.

I love the quiet, the sense of community, and my close knit neighborhood. While going out to Walmart in pajamas is risky because chances are you will see someone you know, it is nice to catch up with people during simple trips to the store. And traffic? There is none unless it is Friday night football or fireworks night.

Small town living is all I know so I suppose that plays into my love of small town living. Most people are comfortable with what they know. 

And although right now I want nothing more than to be out of this traffic, I can endure this inconvenience for the gift that lies ahead. More to come…stay tuned!!

31 Days of Gratitude: Good Food 

It has been a great weekend at the Breathe Christian writing conference. I am home and exhausted and ready for good sleep before diving back into another busy work week.

My thankful thoughts for today are simple but not so simple. When you have food sensitivities, eating out is both challenging and frustrating. To find an amazing place is a treasure.

My friend researched and discovered Anna’s House. Voted the best breakfast in Michigan, this gem offers a variety of gluten free, vegan, and dairy free options. The only problem was….so many choices to choose from!!!

I went with an omelette and gluten free toast. My meal even came with a gluten free pick in the omelette.

Great food, great company, great weekend.

When plans go awry…

We were heading into the city for a Saturday morning of family time, just me and my two kids. A cooking class for my young aspiring chef son. Computer shopping for my college bound daughter. Coffee and brunch out. 

Until we heard a loud, persistent, disturbing noise.

“Mom, I think that’s your van,” my daughter stated matter of factly.

Sure enough…I pulled off into the empty parking lot of a country ice cream shop and this is what I saw…

A very flat tire. And just like that…our well laid out plans gone awry. Long story short…some friends picked us up. My husband and his friends saw my SOS texts when they took a break from fishing and came to rescue my van. The tire was repairable for less than $15. And, I still enjoyed quality time with my kids.

The message in this? Sometimes , life just happens. At no fault of our own, things come up that cause bends and kinks in our well thought out plans. Things like nails on the highway. Illness. Weather. Other people’s choices.

Other times, our own choices, lack of action, or a multitude of other reasons can throw our plans to the curbside.

God’s got our back, though. He is always right there to lead, guide, and direct.

I know that I just need to be willing to listen. Trust Him in the small stuff. Keep moving forward. It is easy to allow myself to get stuck, but being stuck doesn’t move me forward . 

Sometimes, there are messages in everyday stuff. Even flat tires on Saturday mornings.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

Oh, to fly away and be at rest…

I am doing something this week on vacation I don’t normally do well-rest. Now, of course, this is much easier here than at home…fewer responsibilities, the ocean just a short distance from my front door, and no alarm clock buzzing at me to wake up and start the day. I can take a walk when I want to take a walk. I can drink coffee at my own leisurely pace instead of during my commute into work. I have no meetings, no deadlines, no agendas…just time this week. Yesterday, I actually sat by the poolside for two hours and just rested. It was wonderful.

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This is much needed rest. So many changes in my life the past few months. Left a high stressful job. Started another job…still stress, but much better environment but lots of hours. Husband lost his job…so many decisions needing to be made. Daughter to graduate from high school in a few months. Decisions, decisions, decisions. My mind seems to be always racing. My body aches some days from the unpredictable effects of fibromyalgia. I always push through because I need to.

Here, now, this moment, I rest. My mind is calm. My body is calm. The ocean and sky a peaceful blue, meshing into one. A leisurely bike ride. My children, also relaxed, far removed from the pressures of homework and decisions beyond what to eat for dinner…we laugh, we enjoy the moment, the beauty of just being in the presence of one another. My husband enjoying the memories he is making here, one of his favorite childhood vacation destinations. My best friend and daughter’s best friend, both here for the first time, enjoying the beauty and the calm.

If only I could bottle up some of the ocean-the tangible things, easy to captute…salt water, sand, sea shells. It’s the intangible things-not so easy to bottle up-the calm, the quiet, the peace, the slow pacer, the freeing bliss of no schedule…

Oh, that I had wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest… Psalm 55:6

I need to practice this, this thing called rest. No, I can’t fly away and be at rest, but maybe, I can find ways to be better, more intentional, at rest when I return home from this blissful week of rest. One of my fellow leadership team members at work who is my direct supervisor and who I happen to greatly respect and admire had a “Mom” talk with me at work my last day before I left for vacation. She talked about rest and about finding and maintaining balance between work and family. She recognized something in me that she says is very similar in herself-we place high expectations on ourselves…a performance driven type of mentality. It is hard to transition from this type of mentality to one of intentional rest.

For this moment in time, I will savor the peaceful rest, the lulling sound of ocean waves, the laughter of those I am with, the beauty of no schedule. When I return home, I want to carry a piece of the ocean with me…I will fly away and be at rest, if only for a moment, to breathe and ask for His peace, His strength, His rest.

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Travels with Food Issues

Traveling used to be a lot easier. I mean, there is a Subway or McDonald’s every few miles along the interstate. Well, gluten-free and a host of other food issues aren’t so easily accommodated as one travels. I packed my favorite Larabars, Luna Bars which are now gluten-free, apples and bananas, and some rice crisps.

Day  2: We visited Gardner Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, and they had a dedicated allergen free cooking area. I enjoyed a delicious salad with homemade dressing and a pork chop. Kudos to the college for acknowledging the food issues of some of their students.

As far as food for the majority of our vacation, we chose to rent a condo with a kitchen. Breakfast was always eaten inside our condo. We alternated lunch and dinner out. I love my  “Find Me Gluten Free” app on my phone which allows me to locate restaurants, read reviews, and preview menus before eating out.

One of my favorite parts of vacation is finding good clean eats. We have a family rule of no eating at chain restaurants on vacation. Sometimes my kids grumble, but it’s become my unspoken job duty to locate these interesting, sometimes off the beaten path, eateries. Usually, we are not disappointed, and we have many fond memories of really good meals shared together.

One day for lunch, we found the cutest coffee cafe. I normally don’t eat bread and was looking forward to a salad but unfortunately, all their homemade dressings potentially had gluten. So, I opted for a grilled cheese on gluten free bread with tomato and bacon with homemade coleslaw. It was so good although two days of coleslaw equaled an unhappy stomach.

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My daughter and I also enjoy finding good, local coffee shops. We ran along the beach and then treated ourselves to coffee…something that also irritates my stomach…grr!

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And some good chocolate can calm the nerves when prom dress shopping….see this price tag???

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No, we did not choose that dress.

So, I lived off gluten-free waffles, peanut butter, bananas, coffee, chocolate, sweet potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and restaurant meals of meats and veggies. More peanut butter and gluten free grains than usual, but my stomach survived. Now, back to reality and stricter eating to tame my gut!