Growing up I never thought, “Someday I’d like to travel.” I loved reading. I loved visiting new places in books. But the idea of me traveling to another country was, well, foreign to me.
I grew up in Northern California, so going to Oregon was common. I stayed around the same 150 mile radius my whole life except for an occasional vacation to the Oregon coast or the San Francisco bay area. Once my family even went to Disneyland. That was a very big deal.
Now, traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve been to Europe four times and I’ve visited six different European countries–for mission trips and to research my books. I’ve been to Canada often, but living near there in Montana that doesn’t really count. I’ve been to nearly 3/4 of the states–for research, conferences, or speaking events. I love the Mexican food in San Antonio, the museums of DC, the winter weather or Orlando, the fall colors of Maine–and so much more this country has to offer. I love visiting tourist spots but I also like finding the places only locals go to get a true taste of what life there is really like.
The best part of travel is that it still feels like a gift to me. Since it wasn’t something I strove to do or I expected, every trip feels like God saying to me, “I have someplace you’re gonna go … and you’re going to love this.” After I dedicated my life to him as a seventeen-year-old, He’s given me many amazing gifts, and travel is just one of those things. It makes me think of Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
All through my teen years I fought God. Even though I grew up learning about Him, I preferred to do things my way. I hardly went to church, never read my Bible, and refused to listen to Christian music because it was lame. (Or so I thought.) Instead, I dated lots of boys, watched the worst movies possible, hung out with my friends, and indulged in the pleasures of the moment. I thought I’d find happiness there. I was wrong. Instead, true happiness was found when I offered my complete self to God. Not only did He give me peace, joy, and love. He gave me an amazing husband, great kids, an unbelievable career, and as an added bonus the ability to travel and experience the world.
Growing up, I expected to live in the same town my whole life and work as a school teacher because I love kids. Now that I’m an adult God gave me more than I could have imagined. His dreams for me were bigger than I ever dared imagine. He gave me a hope and a future … and I can’t wait to see what He continues to have in store.
I’m forever thankful for the day I decided to give my everything to Him, and I can’t wait to see where our “forever together” will continue to lead me! What about you? What are you ‘forever thankful” for?