I love a road trip. I love planning it, studying maps and guidebooks, reading about travelers who have gone before me, looking for the fastest routes to the most intriguing views. I love the anticipation phase, packing suitcases, trying to calculate every situation that may arise and every change of clothing I may need when I get there. I love hitting the road with excitement and hopefulness, watching the scenery shift and expand outside the car windows, asking “Are we there yet?” at every crossroads, and the rewarding moment when the road signs finally respond, “Only one more mile.”

My first books were Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series. I loved following the Ingalls family on the adventures of their permanent road trip. I envied their family togetherness and their willingness to encounter miles of totally unexplored countryside.

A road trip is a good metaphor for life, I think. We have to have faith that whatever lies beyond our current field of vision is worth the effort and the risk it takes to get there. It is only when we venture beyond the places that are comfortable and constricting that we learn more about the world and grow from our experience. When we have the courage to step away from the stories we have been told, we return home with new wisdom and insights worth sharing.

This spring I have been traveling. I have spent many hours seated in a car to finally walk through ocean waves. So far I have learned that God is able to take us anywhere; but we have to be prepared to take many rest stops along the way, adjust routes and schedules around unforeseen detours, and appreciate that our companions through life are what make the road worth traveling.

Today my bookshelves hold many volumes that inspire me. The book She Explores by Gale Straub reminds me that women are brave travelers who are free to follow their individual paths to adventure. (You may order it from Amazon here, though I’m not affiliated, just sharing a book I enjoy and value.)

This summer I will be writing more about the roads I have traveled and the lessons I have gathered on the way. I have another road trip to take in July. My route is planned, my bags are already, partially packed, and I’m looking forward to bringing back new insights to share with the people who travel the road with me. I pray you embark on many journeys and find many new and exciting stories of your own. Where are your travels taking you this summer? What do you anticipate learning on the road?

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Every New Year celebration means I’ve grown another year older and wiser. Here are a few thoughts I wish I could share with my younger self.  

Everything is going to be okay. No situation lasts forever, and many problems resolve themselves in time. Life does get better.

You deserve good things. No one deserves bad treatment, and you don’t have to tolerate abuse. Believe you should receive better and expect more from your life.

Trust your gut. When you feel uncomfortable or uneasy about a person or a situation, God is telling you to be careful. Listen to your spirit and know God is speaking to your heart.

When it’s time to go, move on. Too often we waste time clinging to roles or relationships that no longer serve our spirits or contribute to our growth. When you feel you’ve outgrown a station or a season, God may be prompting you to make a change and begin a new path.  

Everyone has their own problems. In our current culture, we often see only the surface of others’ lives, and everyone seems to be having more fun than we are. The truth is that everyone has experienced pain, and everyone needs compassion and understanding for whatever they are going through.  

Never “go along to get along.” Too many of us were taught to compromise our hearts and sacrifice our values in order to make others happy. If you are grimly tolerating a situation you know is wrong, either work to change it or accept it is not the right place for you.

Good relationships are built. The best relationships, friendships, and marriages don’t just happen. They require investments of commitment, work, time, and effort to make them successful.

Each person is responsible for his or her choices. We can’t blame others for our mistakes or bad behavior. We choose our actions and the people we want to become.

Reconsider your spending. All the material possessions we buy can’t really bring happiness.  All the clothes, shoes, jewelry, and books we purchase eventually became outgrown or outdated and get thrown away. Think carefully about how you spend your resources.

Invest in experience. The real reward of life is meaningful time shared with people who care. Don’t waste your time and money on things or people that don’t bring joy and value to your life. Focus on the positive and share your experience with people who strengthen and encourage you.

This New Year, I’m looking forward to a time of phenomenal productivity and change. I’m continuing to learn every day, and I’m excited about the lessons that wait in the days ahead.

What advice would you give a younger you? What are you looking forward to learning in 2019?

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