“We write to taste life twice…in the moment and in introspection.” -Anais Nin
We set our mind on things we will and will not do in life…and then life happens. My husband was recently sent to Europe for a business conference and I was grateful to go with him; but this was never supposed to happen because Europe was not on the grid for us. Our life plan or bucket list didn’t call for a European trip. Many other trips, maybe, but not this one. When we returned a friend asked me to write about my adventure; thus, the quote above from Anais Nin. I’d be overjoyed to live this trip again…because it was never supposed to happen!
In Psalm 37:4 we read “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This trip was a gift from God I didn’t ask for and my question time and again during my trip was, “God, what am I supposed to do with this?” From the moment we boarded the plane, the life lessons began.
Less is more. I’m not an amateur at flying, but there are just some things an airline should not divulge to their passengers. When traveling at 644 mph at 6.25 miles in altitude, the air temperature becomes -57 degrees F. Upon learning this news from the onboard television, my relationship with our Lord deepened significantly and I began to nervously eye the emergency exit THAT IS DIRECTLY TO MY RIGHT for the next eight hours. Less is more when it comes to this kind of information. Really, God, what was I supposed to do with that?
Amsterdam Central Station
Don’t forget to look back and remember. To my pleasant surprise, my husband’s boss, Naomi, asked me to sightsee with her while the others were beginning meetings. I was excited about this because I was the only spouse that came along and I knew the rest of the week I would be sightseeing all by myself. As we started out on foot from the majestic Amsterdam Central Station, she startled me as she suddenly stopped, turned around and said, “Wait! When I’m in a foreign land, I always turn around and look back so that I don’t get lost and I’m reminded from where I came. That way, I’ll always be able to find my way back when I need to.” Yes, Naomi, some times we just need to look back and remember how far God has brought us, and sometimes we need to backtrack to get on the right footing again. Yes, Lord, thanks for the reminder. I know what to do with that one.
Look for the “i”. Naomi, being a wealth of information, also told me (as we were in need of information), “Look for the ‘i’.” Universally, when traveling and in need of help, you look for the “i” and there should be someone there who can assist you. I likened this to the Word of God. Read the directions. It will save you so much trouble when you seek it out. Yes, Lord, I’m listening and continually looking to the “i”.
Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium
Relish every moment and then pay it forward. As I walked into buildings older than my country, I was in awe at the number of people who may have walked this path before me. At home, I take so much in life for granted; things I think of as mundane or mediocre. I’ll do it tomorrow…I’ll see to it later. On this journey, I knew ‘later’ would not happen, so I relished every moment. In the Cathedral of Our Lady, which took 169 years to build and was completed in 1521 A.D., I found myself touching the columns and bannisters, wondering who had passed this way before me. How many families had made it their life goal to see this church completed so that I could stand here today? What if the builders had not considered the importance of solid construction of this building (or their faith) to be passed down many generations? We are so very small in this big world. I especially sense this when standing somewhere that generations of families worked together to build and in which people have worshipped for almost 600 years before me. This was a reminder for me to take a deep breath and relish each God-given moment–and then share my faith with the next generation. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 NIV. Praise you, Father, that I’m learning to be still in your presence and relish every moment. Give me the building blocks (words and actions) to share Jesus with the generations to come.
In Front of the Anne Frank House and Museum
Write like Anne. Anne Frank received a diary for her 13th birthday and on the first page dated June 12, 1942, she writes, “I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.” Visiting Anne Frank’s House was the highlight of my trip. Unlike most American museums, you could personally touch the walls, doors and yes, even the book case that hid the secret annex. I cannot fathom why the Holocaust had to happen, but I’m so grateful Anne had the foresight to write about it. I know it helped to keep her sane in an insane world. I have to agree with Anne as she writes on March 15, 1944, “Yet, what’s nicest of all is that at least I can still write down my thoughts and feelings, otherwise I’d just totally suffocate.” God gifts us with thoughts, feelings and words. He wants us to share them and to pass them on to generations, whether they be happy, painful or just mediocre. Yes, Lord, yes! That’s what you want me to do with this!