I will be taking a camping trip soon, so I’m collecting and organizing the gear I plan to pack. I have bought new towels, swim suits, flip flops, and sunscreen; gathered sleeping bags, flashlights, backpacks, and bug spray; collected trail mix, granola bars, beef jerky, and water bottles. I am bringing everything I can possibly imagine to make this trip more comfortable and pleasant.

No trip is about the things we carry with us, but its purpose is to find something new. We venture out to enjoy time with our companions, discover new and memorable views, and explore how people and worlds are different yet similar. We return home with a renewed appreciation for the place where we are known and loved.

Our journey through life is not about the possessions we accumulate, but its goal is to appreciate the lessons we learn. We create a rich life by celebrating time with people we love, discovering new ideas and abilities, and expanding our perceptions of the world. We learn to express our trust and gratitude for the God who knows all and loves us always.

Soon I will be traveling a new and unpredictable road. I will take with me an open mind, an eagerness to explore, and a trust that I’ll return home with a new perspective. Throughout all my journeys I have learned that life is not constantly comfortable or pleasant, but we always have everything we need.

Where is your journey taking you this summer? What do you hope to learn along the way?

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One day last spring I discovered these two guests visiting my patio – young crows who rested from their flight lessons by perching on my air conditioner and outdoor loveseat. I studied the crows from my window and snapped a few photos while their parents squawked overhead, then I left the crows alone to complete their important work while I considered how we all learn to fly.

Leave the nest (or you will be pushed). To discover anything new, we have to move out of our comfort zones and explore dangerous, unknown areas. If we linger in one place too long, we outgrow our safe surroundings and find ourselves forced to change our perspective.

Let go. We can’t learn to fly while clinging to the past. We have to release those burdens that hold us back and make an effort to propel ourselves forward.

Expect to fall. Often we find ourselves moving downwards before we can rise. Sometimes we have to hit the ground before finding the way to lift ourselves up again.

Keep trying. Regular practice builds strength and power. We may have to make several attempts before we develop the stamina we need to succeed.

Encourage others. While baby birds struggle, their parents perch in the trees overhead, calling to their offspring on the ground. When we gain knowledge and understanding, it is important to offer encouragement to those who are still learning to pick themselves up.

These plaques hang on my office wall, reminders that to reach our dreams, we need courage to leave our safe spaces, commitment to do the hard work, and vision to reach heights we’ve only dreamed of before. This week I hope you take a leap and find yourself able to fly.

Where are your dreams leading you now? How can you step out and learn something new?

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