Turning a Corner

Birthday CakeThought I’d add a little birthday cake to this post in celebration of “Running to the Deep’s” 2 year anniversary. (This one was from my older son’s 2nd Birthday– many years ago )

It’s interesting what happens with time… When you’re young it moves SO slowly, and you can’t imagine ever being old enough to drive, or independent enough to make your own way in the world…

And then of course we get older and we want to slow down time– stretch it out, because life just goes by so fast!! Now, I’m really not here to talk about time today, so I won’t keep hammering on it except to say, we sure do notice time’s passing as we turn corners and enter new seasons. (My little “Cookie Monster” is shipping out to serve our country next month!)

When I started this blog, I really had no idea where I was going– I just had such an urgency to grow, and to learn, and to share what I was learning with any who would choose to read it.  Today I’m so grateful for followers and friends who have commented, “liked”, and encouraged me!  It has been an amazing season…9780615981925-Perfect.indd

I’m really thrilled to announce the completion and publication of my workbook, “Going Deeper- Building an Intimate Walk with the Spirit of God”.  You might recognize the cover picture 🙂 .  The book is based largely on my own faith journey as recorded here in “Running to the Deep”.  It also offers lots of reflection questions, some devotionals, places to ponder and record YOUR thoughts, and some fun surprises. (It’s available at drawingwater.org on the Products page, and at Amazon.) More significantly for me, the workbook represents the culmination of my calling in this particular season.  I think at any given time throughout our lives we have a specific area, or focus for growth. We may be Going In– working on healing, recovery, or just getting to know our true selves better.  We may be Going Deep– This was my recent experience– growing intimate with God and discovering more about His purposes for my life.  We may be Going Out– being more intentional about living out that purpose– sharing God’s love with the people in our own circles of influence. If we listen, and are obedient–willing to show up–we gain valuable insights and are then ready to move on.  Does that mean we’ve learned all there is to learn in that area?  Of course not!  But we’ve tasted it, experienced something meaningful, and the next time we are asked to move into that focused area– we will begin at a more profound level.

mirrored candleAnd so, once more I find myself turning a corner…

God has placed a new urgency on my heart to be even bolder, to share more frequently, to show up as I am–while pointing to the Hope I have that allows me to stand in the face of my broken, messy, weakness. My prayer continues to be that I might love others the way my Abba does. Interestingly, He has generously given me some new platforms with which to do just that.  While I won’t take up even more of your time here by going into all of the details, I do want you to know about my new blog, “Spark. Twinkle. Shine!”  (This is me, Going OUT) With a little light and a lot of Hope.  I needed a new place to try a variety of things– Some posts may go more in depth as I tried to do here (while staying around 500 words), many will be shorter– to obediently share more frequently.  Some may just be a picture or a quote to encourage…  Maybe I’ll even take the risk of sharing a few of the unusual dreams God has given me…  However, one thing I know for sure– between this new calling and a commitment to write for a weekly radio program, More than likely I will not continue adding posts here.  I THANK YOU for reading, and I INVITE you all to join me at sparktwinkleshine.wordpress.com for this next chapter!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Until Then– Happy Travels!  Wishing you all the desires of your heart!





In the Eye of the Beholder

Spark . Twinkle . Shine!

You Are Beautiful. (Stop. Breathe. Don’t just wave this away– I’m talking to YOU!)

We get it so wrong… I was with Drawing Water this weekend encouraging the Girls at the NW Women’s Show.  While it is such a privilege to speak into a woman’s life about her true beauty and value, very few can easily accept this truth.  And really, in our media saturated environment is it any wonder?  Daily we are bombarded with images of women who have starved themselves or been molded with poison and plastic… We are shown society’s version of “beautiful” and how clearly, we will never measure up.

Worse yet– our pride filled culture loves to promote the idea that now, that we’re so evolved, now, thanks to science, we finally understand what is true, what is good, what is beautiful.  REALLY?!  Wasn’t it science that thought bloodletting with leeches was a good idea?

Throughout history…

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The Learning Curve

S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G …Does the very thought of it make you want to pull the covers over your head and go back to sleep?  Or are you excited by new challenges, with all of your senses awakened and the “good kind” of soreness in your muscles?  Stretching– physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally is essential for our health and well-being. Think about it– the opposite of growth is at best–stagnation, and at worst, a shrinking quality of life. But nobody said it would be comfortable…

sound boardI’m currently in the middle of a learning curve at a new part-time job and as much as I LOVE being there, and I know this position is a total blessing, it’s not easy.  Then again, if it were– would I really be learning anything new?  I think all of the different kinds of learning that happens with a new job must be one of the best ways there is to truly stretch your brain.  Forget the old adage– “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. As we get older, opportunities to stretch our mental capacity and make new connections (neuroplasticity) has been shown to help prevent dementia!  Honestly, could there be a more important fight?

My new job is as a producer/host for a live talk-radio program.  Here’s the unbelievable part–I wasn’t looking for a job, nor did I have any prior experience in this field! (Can you imagine the learning curve– especially for a woman way past her “Media” prime?)  Actually, how the job came to be is such a great story on its own– one that could only have been orchestrated by our Loving Father–but I’m going to save that for another day. 

With every new job comes a variety of mental challenges that make this situational learning as effective in stretching the brain as what can be accomplished in a formal classroom environment.  There are language skills, such as learning a job specific vocabulary, and memory skills– being able to talk about, and promote the work of the company.  There are also usually technical skills– the practical how to’s of accomplishing work tasks.  But the brain growth (and stretching) doesn’t end there.

Vocational learning also includes things like learning to get along with your co-workers, and how to anticipate the needs of your supervisor.  Relational learning lights up a different area of the brain than the language center–once again demonstrating how a new line of work (whether a paid position or as a volunteer) can do much to keep your brain vibrant and healthy.

One thing that has surprised me about this learning curve is how I’ve been making adjustments to rhythms of life at home. While I still haven’t completely worked out all the bugs, I have carved out a regular block of time for research and writing for the job–the consistency is helping me be more productive in this role. Of course, my hope is to eventually recapture more focused writing time for personal projects –such as this blog–as well.

Stretching can be uncomfortable, it can be risky, and at times even bring public embarrassment!  (You don’t ever want to know how long 6 1/2 seconds of silence can be–as I discovered on my first attempt at hosting the program!) Still, I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for growth, and especially as I KNOW this position was hand-picked for me!  Where are you STRETCHING?

What are You Hoping for?

Blessing BouquetsThis photo makes me smile…  They’re called “Blessing Bouquets” and were designed by my talented friend Rachel at balloonsplendor.com.  My friend Lesley would have loved them!!  Last week we celebrated Lesley’s joyful, colorful, TOO BRIEF life at her memorial service, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of HOPE ever since.

See, Lesley had a huge heart for people and I don’t think she ever met a stranger that didn’t become an instant friend.  She was one of those people who simply radiated God’s love through her actions–giving, helping, caring for (and yes– in her alter ego as a clown, Lady Jellybean–bringing joy to children).  We remembered Lesley by wearing cheerful colored clothing and filling the church with balloons.  While there were certainly tears shed for the loss of this beautiful wife/mother/sister/friend/co-worker at her service, there was also much laughter, comfort in community, and the life-affirming certainty that Lesley is joyfully celebrating at her Savior’s side in heaven.

Have YOU been to the funeral of a faithful follower of Jesus?  It’s a completely different experience than when you attend the final services for someone without faith. Mourning– without the assurance of heaven– is incredibly hard on the human spirit. We weren’t created to die, but to live eternally.  Whether a memorial is characterized by mourning or celebration has everything to do with our understanding of HOPE.

Our culture tends to interchange the word HOPE with words like “want” or “wish”– and that can get pretty confusing when we’re talking about the reality of an afterlife.  Think about it: Are you “hoping” for a tasty meal, a better body, a new job, and a good marriage?  Do you “hope” for an end to world hunger?  Does your idea of Hope extend beyond our earthly existence?  Do you believe that this positive desire WILL actually happen or come true?

God’s Word tells us that Hope is about things unseen, but that we can expect with assurance.  So when a Christian says, they have a Hope in heaven, this isn’t wishful thinking– it’s the eternal perspective that helps them persevere through life even in the midst of suffering and tragedy.  Significantly, Hope doesn’t grow like faith– it simply is or isn’t present.  This is why depression (hopelessness) can be so devastating and dangerous.

If your hope is rooted in a person,or in possessions, or in your position/power, what are you left with, if and when things don’t turn out the way you expect?  What if by the world’s standards you don’t finish whatever it is you think you were put here for? What if the unthinkable happens and your life is cut short?  It’s not just a question of what you leave behind, but of where you are heading!

Another memory came to mind this week as I was thinking about all of this:  When I was in kindergarten I won 5th place in a community-wide art contest.  Because of the prize, it’s the only painting I remember.  It’s subject?  A girl holding bunches of helium balloons in each hand. (Once again I am blown away by the way God weaves the smallest things into the bigger story!) For I know the plans I have for you– the plans to give you Hope and a future…

New Year – New Word – New Surprises

PerseveranceI Love my Abba!  I love that He stands by– even when I’m disconnected (see last post)– ready to jump in with new teaching and direction!  I love that He has plans for me for the New Year and beyond! (Jer 29:11)

In the last few years, instead of making New Year’s resolutions based on my own agenda, I’ve asked for God’s overall theme or Word for me to help focus my year.  Those of you who have been reading awhile will know that much of my learning/sharing in 2013 circled around the idea of “Abundance”.   A couple of weeks ago I had a very strong impression that my new Word would be “Perseverance”.  UGGHH. To be honest, this was not something I wanted to hear; wouldn’t that mean I would be in for a year of struggles and trials? Maybe, this was just my own thinking– influenced by my lingering cough and fatigue, right?  Nope.  Several confirmations later showed me this was indeed God’s design for the next stage of my spiritual growth.  But here’s the thing: with Abba at the center, there was no need for me to be concerned… (funny how our imaginations can run wild 🙂 )

On Dec. 30th, as I began an early exploration of scripture that related to “Perseverance”,  God gave me a second Word for the year– “Hope”.  Of course!  In the same way I came to understand the unmistakable link between “Freedom” and “Peace” a few years back, this next year will provide a much deeper understanding of the intermarriage of “Perseverance” and “Hope”.  In fact, it may sound silly, but my hopes  have been raised already.  I learned so many unexpected spiritual and practical lessons having to do with “Abundance”, and I can already see the same will be no less true for this new focus.

On the first day of 2014, I turned to God in my quiet time, expecting to dig in to scripture and begin a Word study, but He had a different lesson.  While I visualized the three persons of the trinity, the Holy Spirit showed me a picture of the true state of my heart, and a couple of areas in which I had hidden and harbored old unhealthy feelings, even from myself.  With time in prayer and repentance I was reminded of a very important element of all of the training to come:  We can’t truly persevere, or move forward in our development, until we deal with old hurts.  Wow…

I started working on these areas and then two nights ago, I was given an elaborate dream that the Lord knew I would instantly recognize.  In it, I was blessed beyond measure with not only a huge, estate home, but the previous owner left us expensive art work, a pantry full of food, and the latest high-end appliances!  I was teary-eyed with gratitude and then almost as suddenly, anxious about how much there was to manage.  Here was a new realization I didn’t see coming: Perseverance, for me, could be linked to trials of abundance, of being overwhelmed by too much– not just by the more anticipated negative circumstances.  It was like when I learned I could limit God’s abundance by my own predisposition towards lack!!  If I could be overwhelmed by God’s blessing, then I’m not trusting Him enough!  Double wow…

This is going to be quite a year! One thing I know for sure, after a time of exploring the deeper things of God’s “Perseverance” and “Hope”, I’ll never be the same. 🙂 Do you have a Word for 2014?

The Post-Christmas Christmas Post

christmas tree dayIt’s hard to admit it– especially during this season of joy, but I’m feeling a bit cranky and working hard to keep the pity party at bay. The truth is, I’ve really wanted to share something uplifting and spiritual for Christmas. For the last couple of weeks I’ve thought of breezy opening lines and cheery titles– but I just couldn’t get into it.  And so, even though the act of writing itself brings me great satisfaction, I’ve put off posting because I didn’t want to be a downer, or offer an inadequate expression of my thoughts on the subject.

And then… I started reading Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” and I realized maybe this is one of those times I need to be vulnerable. (ick, ick, ickity ick…) Maybe my weakness and transparency could not only help me, but be the real uplifting message someone else may need right now.  if this isn’t the case, feel free to move on– but if this is you, or someone you love– please know you’re not alone, and hang on to the truth of Christmas– God really loves each one of us so much!!  Eventually our feelings will fall in line with our thoughts once more.

I’m not currently depressed (I’ve been there before and can speak from experience on this one 🙂 ). This is really more a case of “disconnect” between what my head knows about the Lord–my unshakable faith, an acute awareness of the many MANY blessings in my life, –AND my emotions, or  what my heart is feeling.  Honestly, I’m embarrassed too. ( yikes, vulnerability is fun.  Thanks, Dr. Brown!)  In years past, I had trouble with the thief who wanted to rob me of my joy at Christmas time, (lots of family pain/losses associated with this season) and I had to change up the routine and create some new traditions.  But this year, somehow I knew everything would be fine.  I was invited to bring a little theatrical presentation to our Christmas Eve Services at church, and I even looked forward to the milestone birthday year I would be celebrating.

Now here we are, post-Christmas, and things have gone well… I am so blessed to share my life with wonderful friends and family; my birthday was remembered, and Christmas Eve was such a special treat.  I have been pondering big concepts to explore in the new year and I’m looking forward to new challenges and growth.  So why the spiritual lull? It could be because I’ve been coughing since the end of November (combination of asthma and a nasty cold).  It could be because being sick is so tiring, and it’s been disappointing to miss several special events. It could be because I’m feeling ashamed for letting a little bug get the best of me, when I personally know so many brave people battling much more serious pain with such positive attitudes. Who knows?  Maybe it’s not related to the cough at all but rather to the distractions and mind clutter of all of the Christmas time to-do’s?

Here’s what I know for sure… God allowed this test and I will continue to push forward and run my race– trusting in His goodness and the beauty to come (even when I don’t feel like it.)  Whew… how’s THAT for vulnerability?

Don’t Let the “Stuff” Distract You from the Substance!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo here we are on the cusp of Thanksgiving Weekend with the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales ads hitting us from all sides… Distracting aren’t they?  After awhile the deals do start looking too good to pass up– even when we KNOW we don’t need that new outfit or electronic “toy”. Don’t buy into the hype!  If we had all of the stuff in the world that tempts us, it still wouldn’t come close to God’s true abundant life.

For those of you unfamiliar with my blog, God’s word for me this year was Abundance, and I’ve written several posts exploring this theme.  While mostly, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of what is meant by this “Zoe life” from spiritual, emotional, and intellectual lessons,  I’ve recently also had the opportunity to look at physical abundance  (wealth as recognized by the world).  Now here’s the fascinating thing– money and possessions do not, in and of themselves, make a rich, full life. Those who experience God’s true abundance “get it” no matter how light or heavy their wallet.

I took this picture in the Hall of mirrors in the palace of Versailles.  Can you even imagine what it would have been like to actually LIVE in this unforgiving environment? Talk about being constantly reminded of our flaws, hmm?  On the tour, guides told stories of the unhappy queen Antoinette.  Despite her uncaring reputation, she sounded like a really good mom who fought to raise her children with some privacy and sense of normalcy in their lives. While I snapped pictures, gawked at the paintings, the gold leaf furniture, and the crystal chandeliers like everyone else, I also couldn’t help but think of a certain English princess not too many years ago with the same sadness, and desires for her sons.  Life in a palace with priceless treasures might seem to be the height of elegance and prestige, but how many of us would really want to live in a glorified cage?

Americans (yes pretty much ALL of us) are very wealthy by the world’s standards.  Travel makes this so clear. So how come so many of us look around at this time of year and think we’re missing out?  It seems when someone places all of his/her attention on enlarging the bank balance and acquiring the stuff of life, they will never feel that it is enough… I was amazed at how many well-off travelers complained when they compared their “poor” circumstances to those with even greater financial fortunes. REALLY??  Where I would expect gratitude and joy at being able to visit all of these amazing sights, there were those who chose instead to be unhappy and bitter the whole time. You know there’s more to “abundance” than you once thought, when you find yourself feeling sorry for the wealthiest traveler on the tour.

Another way that our stuff can get in the way of living the full life Jesus promises is when we get so focused on the minutia, we miss God’s blessings.  Picture a tourist constantly looking through her camera lens.  While she concerns herself with aperture openings in low light, and how to keep her camera steady while we’re moving, she completely loses sight of the fact that she’s on a glorious moonlit gondola ride. In my book, capturing images of living abundantly is nothing compared to experiencing it!

Wishing you all a wonderful time of THANKFULNESS this holiday weekend! (and shopping experiences that don’t pull you away from the true, rich life God has in mind for you.)

I have so enjoyed learning about abundance this year from the Holy Spirit!  I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me next year!

I See You

invisibleYesterday I blew it.  I saw a familiar looking woman in the grocery store who  passed by me at least four times in different aisles, and did I say “hello” or acknowledge her?  No.  What would it have cost me to take the risk and attempt to start a conversation– a little of my time? perhaps a little embarrassment?   Maybe the more important question is– what did it cost me to play it “safe” and keep quiet?

You may remember my heart prayer for our recent trip to Europe– that I would have opportunities to meet real people in authentic, non-touristy situations. Well, God answered this request again and again.  On planes and trains, in cafe’s, shops, and  museums, I enjoyed several wonderful conversations with regular people about their daily lives– their hopes and their challenges.  Though we often had to work to understand each other given the language barriers, I found people were genuinely appreciative of my efforts to get to know them.  Whether talking about traditions with a gondolier whose father, grandfather, and great grandfather were also all gondoliers, or talking to a waitress about the economy and listening to her struggles finding work in her field, or talking to an octogenarian Parisian gentleman about how his city has changed, and what has remained the same– each one graciously shared their story with the interested American woman who really saw them and affirmed their experience.  Starting the conversations was awkward for me, but as it turned out, these people wanted to be known as much as I wanted to know them! I’ve thought about this quite a bit ever since; why don’t we make this kind of effort with the people we come in contact with at home in our daily lives?  What if this gift of listening to one another and validating each other is why we’re here?

Magic MirrorI know I’m dating myself here, but do you remember Romper Room? Each day Miss Nancy would look in her magic mirror and “see” all of the children watching this television show from home.  “I see Billy, and Amy, and Susan, and Tommy…”  Each day she would call out who she “saw” by name, and every day I’d watch to see if she saw me.

We instinctively know the importance of validating babies–Think about it, when was the last time you saw a parent with a stroller who didn’t have at least one stranger making a fuss over the little one in an effort to get the baby to smile back at him or her?  However, somewhere along the way as time marches on, we let our fellow human beings become invisible. Self-involved with our own problems,  days… weeks… even months can go by (especially for the single person) without hearing a single encouraging word directed at them.  And let’s be real: “Liking” someone’s status on FaceBook isn’t the same thing as offering love and support!

It doesn’t take much to make someone feel invisible and unimportant.  Ever talk on your cell phone while checking out at the grocery store? Ever discount or ignore the people who actually make your lattes, groom your dog, or have been waiting in line ahead of you at the DOL?  There are plenty of “me first”, entitled people out there in our world today, but how many of you will choose to practice — “No, you first.  I see you and you matter.”?  Simple acts of listening to others, of validating their existence could be the most important thing we’re ever called to do.  After all, to be known is to be LOVED.  Isn’t that worth the risk?

Would You, Could You, on a Train?

One of my prayers for our trip-of-a-lifetime to Europe was that I would have opportunities to meet real people in authentic, non-touristy situations.  My Heavenly Father answered this request in a multitude of SURPRISING ways…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABefore we traveled to Paris I poured through guidebooks that spoke of the sites, the museums, the city’s highly developed public transportation system, and certain cultural norms.  I also knew that Paris would be a very busy city with crowds.  As an American from the suburbs in the Pacific Northwest what I didn’t realize was how little personal space the Parisians are used to as part of their daily lives.Seriously! I couldn’t shave my legs in the shower without accidentally turning off the water! (But I digress :-))

On the day we were heading to meet a local guide in the Montmartre District, our tour leader gave very specific instructions for using the metro.  “Spread out” (We all wouldn’t fit in the same car), “Don’t be timid; use your elbows” (I never literally elbowed anyone out of my way, but I did learn to be a lot more assertive)  “When the warning bell rings, get through the door right away!” (Metro train door closures do happen, and apparently they can be quite painful.)  As we made our way  through the maze of tunnels and platforms, I felt pretty confident. After all, I’d taken the New York Subway, San Francisco’s BART, and the Chicago El without mishap.  None of those previous experiences prepared me for this. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There had been some delay along on the line, which made the trains run every 5 minutes instead of every 2 minutes.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing… Well-dressed professional people were absolutely crammed into the cars as train after train passed by. Our tour leader told us not to worry even if it took 7 or 8 trains for us all to arrive on our destination platform.  My husband and I paired up; the first train came and I hesitated.  We missed it.  Another train arrived and there was no room for my husband’s other foot. We missed that one too. Claustrophobic in crowds, I was getting really nervous, but refusing to miss out on the adventure, I steeled myself for the inevitable. A third train arrived and we pushed ourselves right through the open doors & into the thick of it. We literally stood shoulder to shoulder with strangers, with backs and chests touching, and I was relieved when the doors closed.  But not for long…

When we arrived at the next station, no one got off, and 4 people crowded into our car!  I remember gasping in surprise and “sucking in” and then wondering if I let out my stomach if it would just pop the last rider out of the car 🙂 Now every inch of me was next to every inch of someone else.  It was like sitting on laps, only standing up.  I also became concerned for two shorter women crowded face first into my armpits.  At least I could see over the group and know I was getting air.  I leaned over each one asking, “ok?” But they took it in stride.  It was almost as if, they were used to this.

At the next station a couple of passengers did manage to disembark with cries of  “Laissez descendre” (loosely translated, make room so I can get the heck out of here!) and I happily obliged them, hoping for more wiggle room. “Bon chance!”. Well right there, in the midst of the the absurdity of this very non-touristy gathering of the locals, God arranged something even more remarkable. A Parisian gentleman entered the car, 1/2 suspending himself on top of the folks closest to the door, and then he immediately struck up a conversation with me, wanting to know about my “unusual accent”. We spoke (in French) all the way until the next station/my destination, as he regaled me with stories of his travels in the U.S., and do you know, I forgot all about my claustrophobia? 🙂

Somebody, Pinch Me!

GOD GIVES US THE DESIRES OF OUR HEART (Ps 37:4)– even when our dreams are extravagant, and even when we don’t deserve them…In fact, not only does our Father want us to enjoy the gifts of answered dreams, but He goes further– fulfilling them beyond our wildest imagination. 🙂 The interesting thing of course, is that we can get so conditioned by problems and failures, so used to disappointment and sorrow, that we stop believing the good times will be coming for us too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve just returned from three incredible weeks in Europe and I can only begin to tell you of the ways God met and surpassed this lifelong desire to travel!   Highlights include a romantic gondola ride on a warm moonlit night in Venice, taking a cooking class in Florence, standing inches away from the greatest art in history, & exploring the ruins of ancient Rome and the specialty markets and cafes in Paris.  Here I was, actually experiencing things I’d only read about or seen in movies, and then it got even better!  In His infinite goodness, God knows what makes my heart sing, and wouldn’t you know He would arrange for a variety of divine appointments– opportunities to really talk with people and learn about their lives! (But this will be a subject for another day :-))

Our vacation will be remembered as one of my great milestones– one of those life-altering events that forever changes the way I view the world. However, while stories which refer to some of these adventures will undoubtedly continue,  I don’t foresee this blog ever becoming about travel.  Whether in France, Italy, or home in the Pacific Northwest, I remain drawn to the same kinds of themes and lessons about life itself.  I’m fascinated by the unique qualities of individuals AND by the commonalities we all share.  And I celebrate finding God at the center of all of it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first of these “lessons” I nearly missed.  In fact as I contemplated what I would share in my first posting after Europe, it didn’t even occur to me to look at my pre-travel thinking.  Now, reflecting back, I am struck by how often I thought the trip might not happen– despite the years of dreaming and  the months of planning. Up until the very end I would imagine an accident or illness, keeping us from going.  Perhaps the trip would be cut short by a delayed flight, lost luggage, or terrible weather… I thought I was being realistic in my faith– knowing that God is good but trying to keep open if His will was not for me on this trip.  People would ask if I was excited and of course I was, but I also remained pretty guarded, as though waiting for the other shoe to drop. See, somehow along the way, I came to believe I couldn’t really have the whole dream, that good things are always tarnished by the darkness of our world– but that tells you more about me than about our loving God!  It’s the voice of the enemy that brings doubt and fears; why are we so willing to agree with the idea that something will go wrong and our desires will go unmet?  The ABUNDANT life is also about living it without future tripping about what may or may not happen to disappoint us!  It’s about living in the moment with gratitude and yes, a certain joie de vivre!!