The Journey

Feet on the dash, I sat in the passenger seat with the windows down and the wind blowing through my hair as my boyfriend drove us through the Adirondacks in New York on our way to his annual family vacation in Vermont.  Lord Huron blared on the radio as I peered outside at the lush green surroundings.  The five hour drive was largely on the back winding roads through small towns filled with local mountain stores to stock up on smores supplies and lakeside campgrounds with the smell of wood fires burning.  Although it was the end of July there was a crispness in the air that to my Virginia blood felt like fall.  With the family canoe strapped to the roof of the Civic, we rambled toward Vermont after stopping for beef jerky to snack on the rest of the drive.


A large, red bridge came into view and I begged my boyfriend to pull over and stop so we could enjoy the perfect blue sky and rolling stream beneath the bridge.  He gladly obliged, as he had just bough a drone and saw a perfect opportunity to test it out.  I laid beside the bridge, listening to the stream and watching the sparrows flitting back and forth in the sky beneath the fluffy clouds.  We seemed to be the only people within miles radius.  A strange emotion crept up on me and settled deep in the pit of my stomach: contentment.  There was a deep abiding peace in my soul that very moment despite knowing that we were delaying our arrival at the vacation house–I was finally at peace on the journey.  Contentment has never been my forte.  Every personality type has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and dare I say that your greatest strength is probably also something that when it is turned on its head is also your greatest weakness.  I have always been someone in search of the next adventure, seeking to arrive at my destination as quickly as possible so I can cram in the maximum amount of experiences into every trip.  This has many benefits, but savoring the moments like this one on the journey is not one of them.


Laying beside the bridge with my boyfriend in the silence felt like I had finally arrived right where I was supposed to be all along: being able to enjoy life on it’s own terms and time table.


We will get there eventually.  I’m just finally enjoying the journey.

 

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An Encounter with God in the Las Vegas Whole Foods

It’s been almost a year since I’ve set out on solo traveling adventures, and it’s also been the longest I’ve ever gone without a legitimate vacation in my adult life.  Both things combined meant I was itching to hop on a plane and go somewhere.  There was an excellent deal for a week in Las Vegas that I could use a condo through my Mom’s timeshare as a home base to explore both Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.  At this point in my life I’m pretty much a national park junkie, so it was a no brainer.

The travel day yesterday shaped up to be one of the worst ones in history of travel for me.  There’s a whole story I could go into concerning everything that happened, but I’m here and safe and that’s all that matters.  My jet lagged body woke me up at 6 am just as light began to peer through the heavy drapes.  I picked up my phone and saw the time and simultaneously knew that my body was absolutely convinced that it was 9 am and that sleep would not find me again.

A leisurely start to the morning was necessary after rough travels yesterday.  I put on Pandora and the decadent bathroom shower falsely persuaded me that I had an amazing singing voice as I bellowed River and Roads by the Head and the Heart.  Craving familiarity, I found a Whole Foods to do my grocery shopping for the week and stock up the cabinets.  

Pushing my cart through the eggs/dairy section, a man standing in front of the plethora of options of different types of eggs asked me which he should buy as I was perusing the yogurt selection. (This is one of my absolute favorite things about solo travel.  Complete strangers never fail to talk to me in a way that never happens when I travel with others, and it makes my day every time.)  After showing him which eggs I typically buy, he opened up the container and began to sniff the eggs.  He gazed up at me, perplexed, and said the eggs didn’t smell.  I chuckled a little bit, and told him that you didn’t need to smell the eggs to determine which ones to buy; eggs don’t smell.

The gentlemen went on to explain that he is a farmer in Ethiopia, and that he’s only here for a few months to visit his children.  He said that on his farm the eggs that he has smell, so he is used to smelling them.  Always one to be absolutely fascinated by foreign cultures, I immediately delved deep into conversation with him about his country, his farm, and his life back in Ethiopia all while my fingers were getting cold from standing in the dairy section.  Conversation turned to my profession, and when I told him I was a physical therapist his face lit up.  He said, “maybe that’s why God led us together-I am having very bad, debilitating back pain from a herniated disc-can you help me?”  Once I gave him advice I simply stated, “I really hope you feel better-God bless you”. 

Saying those three simple words of “God bless you” opened up a whole new realm of conversation with this gentleman.  He asked me if I was a Christian, which I of course responded that I was.  He told me that he was the son of a Bishop in Ethiopia, a powerful man of God who brought revival to his nation.  His father had planted many, many churches across Ethiopia as well as the United States.  The history of his father’s church, his father’s heart and his heart for God and his people had me in tears in the middle of Whole Foods.  He told me to google his father’s name and that he would see the history of the church that he had recounted to me.  When I got home from the grocery store I did just that, and seeing the beautiful history unfold on the Wikipedia page of this man that I had a God-encounter with in the middle of Las Vegas Whole Foods was incredible.  

The vastness of God will always be something that leaves me slack-jawed in awe.  His ability to bring people together and orchestrate divine meetings is unparalleled.  Something that to me seems so fantastical every time it happens, for Him is completely normal and simple.   His heart is always to bless us and show us His goodness and kindness in new ways.  He wants  us to encounter Him everywhere-in the normal, in the mundane, right in the middle of Whole Foods.  All we have to do is show up in wide-eyed wonder and watch what He can do, if we only give Him room.

Allowing Desires to Exist Without Fear

A switch flipped in me after traveling all around the world.  Desires that had been a part of me for so long that they had become a part of the very fabric of my being disappeared completely.  Those desires packed their bags and left, and there was no forwarding address.  It was such a strange vacancy, because they had always been there: my desire to be a wife and a mother.  I couldn’t decide whether the sudden departure from these desires was a very welcome change from something I had no control over anyway, or if there was a deeper issue going on that needed to be addressed.

Coming back to the United States I was fresh with vision and purpose, and armed with the realization that God opens doors when you move in the direction of your desires instead shutting the door on them and running the opposite direction.  I finally realized that if I am abiding in Christ, then He is placing the desires in my heart that are consistent with the plans that He has for me, and therefore by shunning these desires I’m not allowing Him to place me on the path that He has for me! Ironically, by doing everything I felt like I “should”my whole life in order to obtain the life I thought I wanted was the very thing that was keeping me from living out the purpose that God has for me. I broke free of that cycle the moment I took a giant leap of faith and quit my job and traveled the world solo.

Once I was home, I felt I understood who God created me to be and who God is in an entirely different way.  I spent a lot of time compiling what I learned about myself and God and asking Him about what direction I should head next.  I’ve started planning my next around the world adventure and I’ve got a book idea that I’m thrilled about and can’t wait to put into motion.

Talking with one of my mentors about those plans tonight, she was asking me how being a wife and mother fit into the future I had so elaborately planned for myself.  The very mention of becoming a wife and mother made my skin crawl. I think I may have visibly shuddered when she broached the topic.  I told her that I was very unsure that I wanted those things at all anymore.  She cautioned me not to be drawing such a specific future for myself and closing myself off to things that God may have for me if it doesn’t fit into the version of my future that I have in my mind.

OK, with that violent of a reaction maybe this is something I needed to probe a bit deeper.

Journaling about the prayer session with my mentor, God revealed the root of this abrupt departure from my long-held desires for a family of my own: fear.

Fear, isn’t it always you? You’re always the one that makes us run in a direction contrary to our hearts desires. Fear was dressed up in different clothes now that I’m back in the United States, so for a while I didn’t recognize him in the line-up.  Prior to my departure fear looked like me doing everything that I always thought I “should” in order to gain love and approval and the life that I thought I wanted.  Now fear looked like me killing my deepest desires because I didn’t understand in my finite mind how it would fit with this new version of myself that I believe God revealed on my trip.

You see, I don’t believe the problem is me currently making tentative plans and starting to move in the direction of the dreams and desires that God has put in my heart (that right now look like Around the World Part 2 with an amazing book idea). Although, that could become a problem if I moved from a place of “Lord, I believe these are the desires you’ve placed in my heart that are consistent with how You made me and that based on the last direction you’ve given me I am moving in that direction. I’m asking for your wisdom, guidance, and direction, and for you to put me on the right path and to help me hear Your voice” to “This is what I want to do and I will make it happen at any cost, and I’m not asking for Your input”. God already established that moving towards the desires of my heart is a good thing and it allows Him to open the correct doors for me.

The problem is allowing the fear of me slipping back into my old, monotonous, suffocating way of life to frighten me so much that I completely kill off my desire to have my own family because in my finite mind I can’t see how the life I desire would leave any room for those things to co-exist.

The fear of returning to the life that was previously so suffocating to me was so severe that I would rather disown those dreams entirely because in my limited vision I couldn’t foresee a future that would allow my desires for travel, adventure, writing, photography, a husband, and children to co-exist.  In my mind I thought I could either have travel and adventure and this exciting life OR I could be stuck in the same monotonous life that nearly suffocated me and be a wife and mother. I could not have both. I had to choose.  And quite frankly, I was going to choose the life of adventure, because I had already suffocated for long enough.

What if it’s OK to chase after all the desires of my heart even when I can’t see how they all fit together?  What if the healthy place to be is to allow all of these desires to co-exist without fear even though I can’t figure out what a life containing all those elements would look like? What if it’s not my job to figure out exactly what it would look like, but it honors the Lord to step out towards those desires boldly in faith, not shutting the door on them out of fear, but holding them loosely in my hands, giving them back to the Lord, and asking Him to construct the life that honors Him that contains all these desires in it and allows me to fully be myself so that He can use my life for His purposes more readily.

After all, if I shut the door to the desires of being a wife and a mother out of fear of slipping back into my old life, I’ve in fact already slipped back into my old life.  My old life was me shutting doors to my desires and running the other way out of fear that I had to do something other than step through that threshold of desire with trust in God to fulfill it in order to live out the life I thought I should.  My old life was spent slamming doors and keeping order and shutting every desire up tight that didn’t fit with the plan that I had for my life.  But real, true life was never found there.  Life was found by swinging the door to my desires wide open and stepping through it, trusting in God to meet me there-perhaps not in the ways I expected, but to show up and look me in the eye and say, “I’ve been waiting for you for a long, long time. I’m so glad you finally decided to come.”

Perhaps my dear friend Leticia said it best when she told me, “we don’t have to be alone to experience freedom”

When you look at your own life, what ways do you think you may be allowing fear to motivate you more than faith? Will you dig deep with me and ask yourself what your true desires are, in your heart of hearts, buried underneath all of your fears? It’s OK if you don’t know how they all fit together.  Instead of trying to figure out how all the puzzle pieces fit together, will you simply join with me in giving those desires to Jesus and beginning to walk in their general direction, even if it scares you? Will you join me in believing He is able “to do superabundantly, far over and above all that we (dare) ask or think (infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams).” Ephesians 3:20 AMP

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Out with the Old, In with the New


2015 was a year of incredible loss, and gain.  A year of taking huge risks, making the leap, and then expecting the net to appear.The year when I stopped doing what I felt like I “should” and instead chose to start following my heart.  A year of purging toxic, one-way relationships.  Of the roots of my identity growing deep into the earth of my soul.  A year of finally standing up for myself and proclaiming my worth and daring to walk away from anyone and anything that disturbs my peace or doesn’t treat me with respect. A year of one way tickets. Leaving behind everything and everyone I’ve known.  A year of going, going, going.  Planes, trains, ferries, fast boats, and bumpy bus rides. A year of gazing out windows while reading a book.  A year of climbing mountains, literally and figuratively.  Freedom. Absolute freedom.  A year of standing with my arms wide open with the wind whipping my hair in my face while I’m standing on top of a mountain and watching the sunrise.  Being alone and perfectly content.  A year of peddling bikes and walking miles and hiking mountains and blisters and calluses and no toe-nail polish. A year when I felt joy all the way down to my toes.  A year of temples. And more temples. A year when I discovered just how similar everyone is all around the world, and that what binds everyone together is love.  A year of talking to strangers in airports, hotels, and restaurants who instantly became friends and family to travel with until whenever we had to part ways and go different directions.  A year of many languages.  A year of putting my hands together in respect and bowing. The year of rice and chop sticks and squatty potties and bathing out of buckets.  Less money, less things, more experiences. The year when I finally dared to start walking the path that I was born to walk. The year of surrender. And surrender. And surrender-of my will for His.  The year that I learned that my hearts desires aren’t to be feared, but to be followed-they set me on the right path and open up the right doors.  The year that His Truth finally went so deep that external circumstances lost their hold on me.  The year that His goodness, provision, and care for me became the automatic inclination of my mind and heart, even in the midst of trials. The year that I dared to come fully alive.  The year of chasing my passions and desires and reaching my hand out to God and finding His hand reaching right back.  The year of supernatural provision.  The year where I dared to let go of those things that no longer serve me and figure out what does.  The year of countless SIM cards and chasing non-existent Wi-Fi signals.  The year of no plans and last minute changes in direction and letting go of control in favor of spontaneity and being present in the moment.  The year of sweat, heat, tans, humidity, monsoon rains, and frizzy, curly hair.  A year of kayaking rivers, learning to lead rock climb, caving, and walking through rice fields.

It was a year of letting go.

It was a year of surrender.

It was a year of becoming.

The closure of this year feels like the closure of a very significant chapter.  Sometimes you get a premonition that your world is about to turn upside down, that everything is about to change and there’s no going back.  I have a feeling deep in my bones that as the calendar flips and reads 2016, I’m entering a whole new season in my life.  A season where I will be forced to walk out what God has taught me in this previous year in order to thrive in a completely new and foreign land.  I’m ready.

Whatever has happened in this past year, and whatever your expectations are for the year to come, my hope for you is that you will profoundly know your Maker and what He made you for and fearlessly walk the path that He has purposed just for you before the foundation of the world and that it will bring joy to your heart and healing to this broken world.

“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.” -Paulo Coehlo

“I just love that feeling when things are about to change.  Like when you know that in a few seconds you’re going to do something and become someone else.”- Mindi Scott

“What if I told you 10 years from now your life would be exactly the same? Doubt you’d be happy.  So why are you afraid of change?” -Karen Salmansohn

 

Progress (Even When I Feel Like I’m Standing Still)

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Sitting with my feet propped up on my carry-on suitcase looking at hideous airport carpet while waiting for my flight, I received a text message from a dear friend and former travel partner asking me how I was adjusting to life back in the United States.  I messaged back, laughing, telling her I was actually waiting on my next flight on my way to California. Her response was, “of course you are”.  I chuckled to myself.  Being back in airport concourses and sitting on planes felt like coming home.  I love the leaving, the going, the progress to reach a destination. As I was sitting and looking out the window at the twinkling lights below and the curve of the earth during my five hour flight I was suddenly struck with the realization that despite sitting still for hours I was at peace.  My normally frantic mind was as still as a lake with no wind.  Retrospectively,  I realized that all throughout my travels my mind was peaceful on travel days.  I could gaze out of a window on a bus for hours and be content.  In fact, I have some of my most profound and clearest thoughts while I’m sitting still on planes, trains, or buses.  Why is traveling the only time I’m content sitting still?

Suddenly, the answer occurred to me: I’m content being still on travel days because I know that even though I’m sitting still, I’m still getting somewhere.  There’s progress.  There’s forward momentum, even though I’m not the one putting in the effort to get me there.  I’m wired to need progress and change, so sitting still normally feels counter-productive, but if I know I’m getting somewhere I can relax and enjoy the ride.

I listened to a podcast sermon by Bill Johnson entitled “Hope In All Circumstances”.  In it, Bill says,

“Sometimes we are praying for something and He gives us an acorn instead of an oak tree.  We are praying for this massive thing and the problem is we don’t know how to be encouraged in the process.  Because we are waiting for some ‘everything is going to be different right around the corner’ in this next season, we don’t know how to stay encouraged in this season.  Unintentionally, we have put God on trial to answer this one big thing so that we have confidence in what He’s doing instead of realizing He answers so many large prayers with small answers to see if we have the character, stamina, and the focus to steward the answer that came in small form.  Why? Anytime there’s a process of development of the acorn to the oak tree He is trying to grow me into the person who can handle the full answer.  Because if the oak tree was given to me in my present condition, it would destroy me.  So God is trying to grow me into the person that can handle the answer without it destroying me.  All God’s disciplines are so that His blessings don’t kill us.”

I’ve come home from a whirlwind grand adventure and now it feels like I’m sitting still.  Everything has screeched to a startling halt despite feeling renewed with vision and purpose and a fresh understanding of where He is taking me.  Can I sit back and relax in this season just as I’m able to do on travel days because I know that He is getting me there, that there is progress even though I’m not the one putting in the effort, that He is in the process of growing the acorn into a huge, beautiful oak tree? Can I relax and trust Him enough in the process, trusting His character enough to know that He’s getting me to where I need to go? If I trust Him, every day can be a travel day.  Every day that I’m walking with Him I can know that there is progress, even if there’s not a glaringly obvious change of season or grand answer to prayer that I’ve asked for.  Perhaps the breakthrough is coming not suddenly, but is being birthed bit by bit as I travel on this daily, mundane, everyday road of life.

What I Learned by Traveling the World

Last night as I was trying to quiet my mind to allow myself to drift off to sleep memories from my adventures danced across the screen of my mind.  Only 2 weeks at home and it all feels far away, distant, and my memories seem to now be cataloged into the category of memories of “did that really happen, or was it all just a dream?” Meeting the kindest family I’ve ever encountered in an Asian Soup shop in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland who drove me around Reykjavik and showed me all the main tourist attractions for 4 hours and adopted me as part of their family for my entire stay, laying on a pebble beach in Samos, Greece and watching the young girl beside me play in the crystal blue water with nothing but her bathing suit bottoms on reminding me what it looks like to rest and be light-hearted and play, sitting on the rooftop of my hostel in Istanbul and sharing wine with new friends and discussing deep life conversations until the wee hours of the night, walking miles upon endless miles in Istanbul, crossing the Bosphorus with a Frenchman and telling each other our hopes and dreams and getting lost and eating lunch in a hipster area of town  with small cafes overgrown with ivy where I unwittingly paid $25 for a small ramekin of pudding because I forgot the conversion rate for Turkish Lira, sitting on the dusty stoop with new Cambodian friends in typical Asian style and meeting the whole town as they came to buy food and other goods out of their storefront one-by-one including a 3 year old buying his Dad’s daily beer as well as sharing a meal as part of their family, the English students in Laos expressing their gratitude to me for teaching them English for 2 weeks during my stay and being painted a picture of what true gratitude looks like, even when you have nothing, meeting Christian brothers and sisters in Vang Vieng, Laos and sharing meals in a lamp-lit restaurant while the monsoon season rains raged on outside and having them immediately dive into the tough questions, asking me, “Kim, what is the vision God’s given you for your life, because without vision people perish”, biking down dirt paths, dodging herds of cows to stumble upon a rice field with jagged mountain backdrops, walking in rice up to my waist and stumbling upon a new Irish friend and exploring caves all day together, playing with beautiful orphan girls in Chiang Mai, Thailand who taught me how to hold my head high in the face of rejection and walk in the Truth of my God-given identity,  organic meals and $40, 3 hour spa treatments and hiking up an active volcano at 2 am to arrive at the summit at sunrise in Bali, trekking for 3 days in Myanmar and staying in villages, bathing from buckets and going to the bathroom in squatty potties and having no mission except to wake up and walk until my feet couldn’t carry me anymore and pay attention to my surroundings: the water buffalos and the fog hugging the mountains and the spiderwebs glistening with dew and the chilis drying in the sun and the women harvesting rice and the pop of the yellow flowers on the mountainside with fields of poppies, the Burmese children giving me high fives and exclaiming “Mingalaba” as they were speeding by the opposite direction as me on their bikes, watching the orange sun glisten over 4,000 temples as it set over Bagan, all of it, I remember all of it. I loved the perpetual motion, the going, leaving behind the old and breaking forth into the new, the change, the progress.  12 hours sitting still on a bus was still time well spent because I was going places, even if it was nowhere in particular. Stagnation is the enemy of my soul.  Brand these things on my heart so I may never forget all that I’ve learned by leaving behind everything I knew to discover the limitless possibilities of a life lived authentically.

Over tea and coffee and dinner and snuggled on couches under blankets many friends have asked me, “What did you learn on this trip?” Slowly, slowly I’ve been attempting to untangle all the lessons God taught me, to pull the threads of those lessons that God wove into the very fabric of those experiences and hold it up to the light for examination.  Having walked through the mountains and the valleys of my trip and arrived back on my own doorstep I finally feel I can succinctly discuss the overarching themes God wove into my adventures.

Firstly, life becomes an amazingly beautiful adventure when you let go of control.  When I give up striving and doing everything in my own self effort I exchange my finite creative outcomes with his infinite creative possibilities for my life. I could have never arranged to be in the right place at the right time to meet all the wonderful people who enriched my journey or have conjured up all the spectacular experiences I was so fortunate to partake in. What He has for me is infinitely better than what I can make happen on my own.

Secondly, I learned to start trusting my own desires, to lean into them and follow them instead of stuff them and hope they went away.  Before my trip I was an expert at doing everything I should and it was birthed from a place of feeling like I had to perform a certain way or live my life in a certain way in order to receive love.  God has helped me to realize that if I’m abiding in Christ, He is placing the desires in my heart that are in line with His path and plan for my life, and when I walk towards them, He is able to open the correct doors and put me in contact with the correct people in order to see these God-given desires fulfilled.  I never would have felt fulfilled or lived the life that I was created to live by continuously stuffing my desires, but by embracing them I can step into what He has called me to all along. (Please know that when I say following my desires it is always a given that I am speaking about desires that do not contradict the Truth of Scripture).  There is such freedom in living my life authentically.

Lastly, I learned that these amazing experiences, opportunities, and people came into my life not because I earned them, but because of who I am in Christ. I am His daughter and He is so pleased with me. He doesn’t see spot or blemish on me.  It’s His pleasure to give me the Kingdom, because He has already purchased it for me on the cross! In essence, I learned what it looks like to allow myself to actually receive the love that is already mine through Christ instead of trying to work to feel worthy of it in my own strength.

God is the same in the United States as He is all over the world, and I’m trying to continue to grasp firmly to these Truths that He revealed to me while on the road.  These Truths, they changed me.  They changed everything.

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“As Ann explained last night — I am a hunter, and she is a gatherer. My tactic in life is to go out there and chase down inspiration by tracking it across the world. I need to travel, I need to move, I need changes of scenery, I need to meet all the people on earth, I need to roll around in a story, I need to PURSUE. I also need to physically live in different places from year to year. I have never written two books in the same house. Movement is my power source. That’s where all my most energetic ideas come from.

Ann’s creative tactic is to stay close to home, and to gather (as she put it) “the nuts and berries” of inspiration. Her best work is done in quiet reflection, in the peace and tranquility and stability of her home. She grows and cultivates ideas, rather than chasing them. Her energies need to be still and focused in order to come into being. Familiarity of surrounding brings her fertile ground in which to create.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

 

This is the Face of Reverse Culture Shock

I go to reach for my electric toothbrush and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  My eyes look tired and worn, and I watch them fill with tears, and finally, overflow.  I don’t have the strength to put the toothpaste on my toothbrush; I collapse in heaving sobs on top of the toilet instead and let the toothbrush drop to the floor.  The only sound is the dripping of the faucet and my gasping for breath between desperate fits of crying.  All I feel is the crushing weight of 2 years of loss.  I allow myself to break.

As I crossed into American airspace, almost instantaneously as my plane touched down on American soil I felt the freedom that I fought so hard for during my travels get sucked out the second the cabin pressure was broken and the airplane hatch was opened to the outside world.  That old, familiar enemy, control, was chasing me and trying to close his hands around my throat again.  Suddenly the things that had become so clear on my trip were all muddled, like murky water I could no longer see my reflection in.  Everything that I thought was so clear made no sense anymore as I felt myself adjust to the confines of everyone’s expectations and cultural norms being imposed on me again.

By the end of my adventures I felt I knew myself well enough to make the decision to take freelance physical therapy jobs and have the freedom to work and travel on my own timetable as the Lord leads.  After less than a week in the States I was questioning the plausibility of the life I feel I was born to live based on the cultural push-back I was feeling on all sides.  Nothing makes me feel more frantic, like a cat desperately clawing to get out of a cardboard box, than feeling like these desires that have been planted so deep within me will never become a reality and that I have to uproot them, strangle them, and allow them to die to live the life that everyone tells me I should.

What if what think I need isn’t what I need at all?  I know that I need variety in my life.  I’m no longer questioning it or trying to stuff it.  I believe my need for variety and new, exciting experiences is the way the Lord made me to fulfill whatever purposes He has for me.  But I’m afraid I will make the pendulum swing too far in the other direction and chase this stimulus of soul, these high, adventurous experiences, until I am incapable of being fully appreciative and present in a normal, everyday moment.  I fear chasing adventure so much that I will not be able to grow roots and have deep, meaningful relationships which are just as profoundly important to me.  What is the best balance for me?

The answer is: I don’t know.

This trip made me enter into a whole new world of understanding God and myself.  The double doors were flung wide open.  While traveling I lived in the world where I was completely free because there was no way for me to even hope to control anything. Back in the United States the temptation is to try to control and desperately figure out this new, wide open space the Lord has taken me into because here I’m used to being able to control.  My old habits are chasing me down like hunting dogs hot on my scent, not satisfied until they sink their teeth into my flesh.

I must remind myself daily, hourly, every minute if I have to that what I think I know about myself and what I need and the life I would like to have I may not, and that’s OK.  It’s OK because I know my God, and I’ve surrendered control to Him.  Just as I had to learn what it looked like to live with God in control in the far corners of the Earth, I have to learn what it looks like to live a surrendered life right here in my hometown because I had never fully relinquished control prior to my travels. Thanks to my travels around the world I know what it looks like and what it feels like to live that surrendered life, and I know what it feels like when I take those reigns of control back into my own two hands.  If I have to consciously drop my hands a million time a day until I get it, that’s what needs to be done. I will walk one day at a time with Jesus, trusting that He created me and He knows my needs and He gave me the desires that I have for a reason, and I don’t have to waste my mental energy trying to figure out my own life plan; all I have to do is surrender every day and trust Him to guide my steps to the abundant life that He has for me.

I want to have my own life plan figured out. I want to have the comfort and security of being able to say: I will have these freelance positions for this many months of the year and travel this many months of the year and know the exact ratio of work: travel that will allow both my needs for variety and roots to be satisfied and fulfilled.

Instead I will bow my head and say, I don’t know, and there’s no way I can even hope to figure it all out.  Instead I will trust the One who does know, and live with Him leading me one day at a time.

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black sand beach in Vik, Iceland

“Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown.”-Claude Bernard

“Man is not free to refuse to do the thing which gives him more pleasure than any other conceivable action.”-Stendhal