Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Bus Stops Here


I'm leaving for Italy next week with my packet of Dramamine tucked safely in the front pocket of my carry-on bag. 

I'm not really a regular taker of Dramamine because I'm not a fan of naps. In fact, I think I've only used it once. But when I opened the email from the faith and art retreat leader filled with last minute details about the trip, it was the all-capital-letters warning about the bus ride that caught my attention.

It seems that the road from Milan to Lake Como is an extremely curvy one. And I’ll be traveling it on a bus. For about two hours. 

The email said this was NOT the time to think you can beat motion sickness and to TAKE medication. {That was the gist of it anyway.}

Now I’m the girl who gets queasy just thinking about riding a bus. I don’t do theme park rides or watch jiggly videos on YouTube. I get dizzy just looking over my shoulder too quickly.

I wasn’t always this way. 



I grew up in Pittsburgh, navigating up and down its steep hills without a second thought. 

But Florida’s flat roadways have me conditioned to a tamer sort of traveling, which is rather tedious for those who enjoy an ultimate driving adventure.

Like I’m apparently going to experience on the road to Lake Como.

I was telling my sister how I was dreading the bus ride and I’d probably turn six shades of green by the end of my journey, when my niece overheard me and offered her eight-year-old assessment. 

“Oh Auntie, you always think of the worst things,” she said. “What if that doesn’t even happen?”



She’s right, of course. 

Although I hope for the best, my life’s motto has always been to imagine the worst since that’s just how things seem to go for me. 

I’ve convinced myself that with this train of thought, I’ll be better prepared.

But this is rarely true. 

It’s never provided a softer landing for my fall. Whatever disappointment, failure or difficulty occurred wasn’t any easier to accept. All the worst-case scenario planning that went on in my head just made me worried and anxious. 

So this bus ride to Lake Como might be the place to put the brakes on this train of thought.



This kind of thinking wants me to ponder, well . . . me. 

What will I do? How will I feel? How will I look? 

I suspect these me-centered thoughts will resurface as I attempt an array of activities for the first time during my trip to Italy. 

But God has been inviting me to blur my focus. 

I’ve been attempting to look through a new lens, seeing my usual self-conscious preoccupation much less sharply. And when my image grows fuzzy, I can see the frame of another much more clearly.



This is how God’s counterintuitive design for our lives works. 

When you empty yourself, you’re mysteriously satisfied. 

When you give it away, you experience abundance. 

When you release what’s in your hands, your heart inexplicably fills.

I’ve found that the very things in life I’m desiring most, might be found when I consider myself least.



Somehow I think when I remember the hearts of those sharing their love of Italy and their artful talents with me, I’ll find this trip to be everything I’ve dreamed of.

Months ago when I first heard of this faith and art retreat and my heart soared at the thought of it, God whispered, “Let’s go to Italy together.”

So I’ll be making art of scripture as I learn to Bible-journal. 

I’ll be painting and drawing from the hillsides of Italy. 

I’ll be cooking with some Italian mamas. 

And I’ll be seeing the homeland of those who came before me in my own family.



So I’m hoping for the best on the bus ride to Lake Como. Because I hear the drive offers some spectacular views. 

Just between you and me, I think I’ll keep the Dramamine tucked in my bag. I wouldn’t want to doze off and find the bus stopped and discover I’d missed the entire exciting drive. 

Or would I? 

{To be continued in three weeks.}

I understand wi-fi is spotty where I’ll be staying, but follow me here on Instagram for mini updates of my journey to Italy!




I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Join me there!



27 comments:

  1. I'm following along, traveling vicariously with you, friend! What a great big adventure you're jumping into! I just can't wait to hear about all your discoveries.

    Hugs! And prayers for a delightful journey ...

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    1. Linda,
      I cherish your company on this virtual journey! And I'm so grateful for you! When I hop on over to your little corner of the internet, I can't wait to read about your adventures on your new journey. It's hard but sometimes it's the only way to experience God, isn't it!? xoxo friend!

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  2. I am seriously giddy with excitement over reading this today and the anticipation of your trip!!!! I can't wait to see how God works in your life through it!!!! ♥♥♥ I've been confronted this week too with asking the wrong questions... as I've been all over the first few chapters of Joshua. It's not "are you friend or foe?" But it's "I'm YOUR servant, what would YOU have me do..." or learn or see. It seems when I ask Him, "What should I DO?" I don't get nearly as clear an answer as when I ask Him to, "Help me understand..." and you know all about how that story turned out. xoxoxo Can't wait to see the beauty He shows you through IG!!!

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    1. Oh Heather, yes your "help me understand" prayer unlocked something beautiful for you! Thank you for your excitement about my trip and I'm thrilled you will journey with me (via IG)! Isn't it funny when we ask the wrong questions and God redirects us, so many things become clearer? I love that but it's not easy! :)

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  3. This retreat sounds absolutely amazing. And I wish I could go to Italy with you. It's always been on my bucket list and I know one day I will get to see it for myself. I can't wait to see your photos of the beautiful place as well. Isn't God good? I can't wait to hear all about your trip.

    Kia / The House of KTS
    www.houseofkts.com

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    1. Kay,
      I know you would love this retreat with your love of art! Thank you so much for traveling with me in spirit and I can't wait to share my photos! xo

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  4. Valerie, what a beautiful site you have. :)
    What a blessing to be able to go to Italy--and with the best travel companion ever--God.
    Hope you have a wonderful time. Prayers that you don't get sick!
    ~ Best to you from your neighbor at the Coffee for Your Heart Linkup today. ~

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    1. Brenda,
      Thank you so much for stopping by and thank you so much for your sweet prayers!

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  5. Very excited to hear about your adventures! You will have such a wonderful time!

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    1. Brittany,
      You know you will be the first to know (and I'm sure I will need some very-long-distance technical assistance -- do you have your international billable rate ready for me?!)

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  6. Absolutely can't wait to hear all about your trip!! Hope you have wonderful, safe, and blessed travels!

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    1. Winter,
      So grateful for your bon voyage wishes! :)

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  7. Valerie- I love this- I am so much the same way! I think of the worst in hopes to prepare myself for every possible mishap!! I will be praying for your trip! I just got my first journaling Bible from a friend! I am a little afraid to make the first mark, if you know what I mean! I can't wait to see all you learn and do and see, and of course your beautiful photos! What a nice trip with God- the best companion of all! Sending lots of hugs and love! xoxo Have a wonderful time!!!( I will be praying even the bus ride is amazing and all your fears dissolve in HIs safe arms )

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    1. Susie,
      I'm excited that you are going to start Bible journaling too! I know exactly what you mean about making the first strokes of the pen on the page but I think Bible journaling will be a great channel for your artistic endeavors! :) Thank you for your prayers -- I'm so grateful for them! xo

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  8. V-Your prep with meds is a good one. I get sea sick on cruises, and I didn't think or know that I would be affected. Enjoying the trip is worth the sleepy side effects. You can drink some hot tea or coffee along the way perhaps! Praying God shows you His face in the people and places you encounter along the way! Grace and Peace, Jenn

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    1. Jenn,
      I so cherish your prayers! I think hot tea along the way sounds like a perfect plan! xo

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  9. Hello Valerie, what an exciting opportunity. I do pray you have fun and share all about it too. I'd love to hear about your trip.
    The Lord be with you all the way through and back too.
    Many Blessings to you

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    1. Ifeoma,
      Thank you for your sweet wishes and so grateful for you stopping by and sharing your encouragement!

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  10. What a lovely trip - an art retreat! I watched "Roman Holiday" the other day :) Audrey Hepburn and Rome and all its glory! Have a fantastic time with Jesus by your side!

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    1. Ashley,
      I love Roman Holiday too! Thanks for your encouragement and prayers!

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  11. Valerie, I'm so excited about your trip to Italy, and can't wait to read details about it! Bible journaling?! Do tell!Living my wanderlust dreams vicariously through you! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Ellen,
      I'm happy to share my trip with you -- come along and learn how to Bible journal -- I can't wait to find out how to create art alongside the words in scripture! :)

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  12. What a wise niece you have, Valerie! It's hard not to think the worst though, isn't it? I hope you have a wonderful time of rejuvenation in Italy. And I wish you a stomach-settling bus ride! I'm looking forward to hearing more. Hugs!

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    1. Trudy,
      My sweet niece does always stop me in my tracks! Love that thought of yours -- a time of rejuvenation -- that is what I'm hoping for! I cherish your prayers for me, friend! xo

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  13. Out of the mouths of babes, huh? She is right, but I am with you on bringing the Dramamine ;)
    Have a marvelous time and don't forget any detail!

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    1. Sarah,
      I can't wait to share the details -- I'm sure they'll be a wide range of unexpected, amazing and surprising! Thanks for journeying with me in spirit! :)

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  14. I can't wait till you get back Valerie, but then again I want you to take your time and have the time of your life over there. I can't wait to hear about all the stories you will have to tell. Have an amazing time over there Valerie.

    Kia / The House of KTS
    www.houseofkts.com

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