Enjoy the Journey


Rainbow over Smithport October 16, 2015
Rainbow over Smithport, October 16, 2015

Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted. Take delight in each light-filled hour. – Ecclesiastes 11:8 (The Message)

I once read of a woman who wanted to visit some relatives who lived halfway across the country. Since she didn’t like to fly, she decided to take a train. Besides, she figured, she’d see more of the countryside that way. But when she got to her seat, she fiddled around, arranging her things for comfort and convenience. She was never quite satisfied, and, by the time she got situated, she had reached her destination. She never got to enjoy the trip!

On our life journey, we can become so focused on trying to make little, inconsequential details perfect that we miss the best part—the journey itself. We fail to discover the pleasant surprises—the serendipity moments—God has placed around us each day.

A rainbow is a serendipity moment. One summer morning years ago I roused my three children out of bed to see a rainbow. The sleepyheads didn’t appreciate it then, but I hope they remember, and I hope, now that they’re adults, they allow some serendipity in their lives—and teach their children likewise.

Serendipity is more than spontaneity. It’s finding an unexpected joy—a “fortunate happenstance” or pleasant surprise on your life journey. Detailitis blinds us to serendipity.

Or maybe we just get too busy, period, and develop “projectitis.” We become slaves to a list of projects that “just must be done,” and we don’t take time to smell the lilacs, gaze at a rainbow, watch the sunset, dance barefoot in the rain, go on an impromptu picnic, or take a day trip just for fun.

Stopping to appreciate what’s around us isn’t the only way to enjoy life. Don’t just say, “I’ve always wanted to ______” (fill in the blank). Take the time and do it!

Just this past week I listened to a radio host interviewing a man who set out, at the age of 69, to visit each of the 50 states before his seventieth birthday. His visits aren’t just drive through or stop and take a few pictures, either. He plans an adventure in each state—a bike ride, a hike—something physically challenging. He has four states left, one of which is Colorado, where he plans a skiing adventure.

My writing colleague and friend Karen O’Connor, a senior who writes for seniors, is currently on a two-week tour of the national parks in the western states. “This trip has been on my bucket list,” she said. “Now it’s time to pull it out of the bucket.”

Don’t let detailitis blind you to the beauty of the world around you or projectitis snuff out your dreams. Give in to serendipity moments. Pull something out of your bucket.

Remember that happiness is not a destination—it’s the journey itself.

However many years I have, Lord, help me to enjoy them all (Ecclesiastes 11:8 NIV). Open my eyes to the pleasant surprises in this day, and give me the courage to take time to pursue those dreams You’ve placed in my heart. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Luke 10:38–42

Dean and me on top of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine, September 2013 (on our 40th wedding anniversary camping trip)

Finding Joy Again



For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8–9 NIV

I’d been feeling poorly for nearly a year—stressed, down, tense—living in a gray world. I’d lost my joy and didn’t know how to get it back. I wanted it back. Oh, how I wanted it back.

One day, feeling particularly overwhelmed, I told God, “Everything I’m doing—writing, preaching, teaching the women’s Bible study, the two boards on which I serve—I give it all back to You. I’m taking everything off my plate. You put back what You want on there.”

Now, I’m a believer in open and closed doors. That’s how God directs me. I figured He’d close the doors to what I’m not supposed to be doing. So I kept on keeping on and forgot all about that prayer. Until Monday.

I was canning tomato juice when I remembered.

Perhaps it was because, despite the exhaustion and body aches, I had such joy as I gazed at those filled jars lining the countertop and heard the pop of the lids as they sealed. I hadn’t experienced such a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in a long time.

I made the connection. And I was aghast.

“Lord, is that why I have no desire to write fiction? Why the joy has gone out of it? Why the passion for it is missing? This is the one thing You didn’t put back on my plate.”

I didn’t expect this! Writing fiction was something I did for me. It was such fun running with the muse. Yet the muse had been AWOL for quite some time.

“Lord,” I prayed, “if this is what You want, help me. Make me willing to be willing.”

I thought of my readers who have told me how much they love my books and all who have encouraged me. And I thought: Am I writing fiction to please them or to please God? And I realized the answer was “them.”

The next day I had peace about it. I sensed the Spirit telling me it’s just for a season. I’m taking a hiatus, not hanging up my fiction writing spurs.

Remember how God led the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land? The cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night—when the cloud/pillar moved, they moved. When it stopped, they stopped.

Perhaps I need a season to heal emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. They’re all connected. When you’re hurting in one of those areas, the rest are affected.

I’m taking this hiatus one day at a time. I still have the desire to learn the craft of writing fiction and to hone my writing skills. But I’m okay with not writing fiction until the cloud/pillar moves.

When I shared this story with a friend this past week, she asked me, “How did you get peace?”

“God poured it in me,” I said, “at the point of submission.”

God has a plan, and I need to follow His and not mine. His way. His time. That’s the only way to peace and joy.

“Not my will, Lord, but thine be done.”

One day God’s going to nudge me back to that novel I didn’t finish. It will be fun. I will be exhilarating as I joyfully run with the muse again.

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me that Your way is the only way to peace and joy. Amen.

Extra Tea: Read and meditate on Isaiah 55:8–13