Wednesday, March 23, 2016

An Amazing Guide for the Tour of Life


I often wish I had the insight and knowledge of an expert guide to help me map out and navigate the journey of my life. 

Wouldn't that be amazing?

Whenever I plan a trip, I search out tours that can give me a taste of the local culture and a guide who can show me a city's hidden gems that tourists might not discover on their own.

In Paris, I took a walking food tour of the city from a long-time Parisian who opened locked gates to secret courtyards of her friends and introduced us to her favorite shopkeepers. She advised us not to believe the tour books but to take her recommendations for the best chocolate and pastries in Paris.

She was sophisticated and confident and I felt very French just accompanying her through the city streets {although I made sure to walk a few steps behind her}.



I spent three hours touring the Louvre with an elegant guide in her 70s whose knowledge of art, history and religion was spectacular. I could have listened to her talk for days, she was so interesting and well-informed.

I couldn't help comparing that visit with my day at the Musee d’Orsay, Paris’s treasure trove of Impressionist paintings, where I opted to just read the placards as I strolled around on my own. 

I missed the insight and stories that guides reveal, and when I got home I realized my experiences with a tour guide were often my favorite memories of my trip.



So I’m welcoming the You’re Already Amazing Life Growth Guide by author and (in)courage founder Holley Gerth as much-needed inspiration for my life's journey. It's a companion to Holley’s previously published book, You’re Already Amazing, and offers six sessions:
  1. Who God Created Us to Be
  2. What's True No Matter How We Feel
  3. Our Amazing Journey with Jesus
  4. God's Plan for Our Relationships
  5. God's Purpose for Our Lives
  6. How We Can Thrive for a Lifetime
Holley takes us through exercises that identify our strengths and skills as she shares truths that will help us recognize God’s purpose for our lives. 

Since we can sometimes become mired in details that are overwhelming or challenging, she invites us to map out where we are on our journey by creating a timeline of our lives. This offers a big picture view so we can better understand how far God has brought us.



For my timeline, I was tempted to include every monumental moment {my first pair of high heels certainly ranks right up there or surely decorating my first apartment?} but I limited myself to a handful of life-changing events that truly changed or impacted my journey.

I realized that five years ago I couldn't have seen myself writing a blog, exploring Paris or making art in Italy on a retreat with 24 ladies I'd never met before. 

I saw my natural tendency as a settler in Holley's descriptions of how we react to change in our lives, yet I somehow {for a short time} became an explorer and traveler, when God said it was time for a new adventure.



Holley inspires us to identify all that's already amazing about who we are and to set our sights on looking at our lives through God's perspective of us, which is wonderfully unique, creative and loving.

Realizing who we are is the first step to living out God's beautiful purposes for all of us.
“All we are, everything God created us to be, becomes a gift when placed in his hands. There’s nothing he can’t mold, shape, redeem or form into something beautiful. We don’t have to be afraid or hold back — we can just hold out our hearts to the one who promises to complete the good work work he’s already started in us." - Holley Gerth

In Italy last summer, our local guide Rita toured us through the village of Bellagio. She was passionate about sharing her love of the area with us.

She took us to her father-in-law's house and invited us to view the lake from his yard. After leading us on a several mile walk, she arranged for us to have a lunch spread in the alcove of the gardens {where the public isn't normally invited} so we could recline on the lawn with our Italian sandwiches and fruit.

On our last night in Bellagio, she scheduled a private concert of a local choir to serenade us as we looked out over the lake for the last time before heading for home.





These talented tour guides I met on my trips shared their gifts to create treasured memories for me that will last a lifetime.

In Paris, after my tour of the Louvre ended, I went up to the woman who led the group and told her the evening was unforgettable and I was so grateful she shared her knowledge with us. 

In true French fashion, she shrugged, smiled politely and said she was glad I enjoyed it. 

I wonder if those women realize how truly amazing they are.




I'm part of Revell publisher's blogger review tour for You're Already Amazing Life Growth Guide. I received a complimentary copy of the book, but the opinions are completely my own.



I'm having coffee with my friends Holley Gerth at Coffee for your Heart and Bonnie Gray at the Faith Barista. Join me there for more posts from my blogger friends!





30 comments:

  1. Yes! I loved Holley's new book as well! It was so meaningful, that I've given a couple of copies to a young woman in my church so that she can do a study with a friend. So much good truth there, and I love how you've spot-lighted it here with your amazing photography.

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    1. Michele,
      Grateful for your kind words about the photos! Love what Holley shares to help us see how amazing we are and what God can do through us!

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  2. Everyone's talking about Holley's new book! Thanks for weaving your trip-of-a-lifetime in with your review. So very cool.

    Did you ever think you'd reap so many powerful blog posts from your journey abroad?

    I, for one, am glad.

    Celebrating our risen Savior with you, friend ... indeed.

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    1. Linda,
      I could never have imagined going on an art retreat to Italy with such amazing women -- and I would never have known such a trip even existed had I not started writing a blog -- and said yes to what God was whispering to my heart five years ago. So grateful for you, my friend, and the happiest of Easters to you, too!

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  3. It's crazy how many amazing things we fail to notice in our lives and about ourselves along our journey! This sounds like a pretty helpful and insightful book. Life certainly is better with our ultimate tour guide- Jesus! I'm eternally grateful that he wove our stories together and our paths crossed through this blogging world. I pray that he keeps opening your eyes to all the new and exciting things he holds in store for you friend. The fact that we can all come together as already amazing women to walk with and encourage one another is such a blessing. Lovely post and pictures as always. xo

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    1. Heather,
      So grateful too that our paths have intersected and even paused as we journey from our different locales! Life certainly is better with our ultimate tour guide and with those inspired guides we meet along the way, too!

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  4. You have a unique and interesting way of weaving your journey in Paris with our life journey, Valerie. Great book review! I love Holley's book. It really did guide me deeper into how amazing we are in Jesus. I'm so grateful you started blogging and blessed to have met you. I love your photos as always. As a child I would imagine myself diving into a photo scene to find a quiet, safe place, and I still do it sometimes. The 4th photo really drew me in. I could imagine myself sitting on those steps. It's such a cozy scene. :) May you have a joy-filled Easter! Hugs!

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    1. Trudy,
      Well, I couldn't pass up a chance to compare a life guide with the tour guides that were so inspirational during my adventures overseas! :) I love that you would imagine yourself in the center of a photo -- what a creative soul you are! Happiest of Easters to you too, friend!

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  5. You've made the book very appealing, Valerie and I quite enjoyed reading about your adventures in Europe. It all sounded amazing. What memories you have, and, life-changing. I always enjoy my visits to your site.

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    1. Thank you Debby! Always so grateful when you stop in here for a visit!

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  6. I always enjoy popping in over here to see your beautiful pictures and read your stories. Aren't you just loving Holley's guide? And the videos?! Going through it affirmed several things I already knew about myself and nudged me to keep pushing through.

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    1. Alecia,
      Holley has a talent for inspiring us -- there aren't many like her that urge us to appreciate who we already are -- that's what I especially love! I also think You're Already Amazing is quite possibly my favorite book of hers!

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  7. Absolutely stunning photos! And that you never thought 5 years ago you would be traveling and blogging, is inspiring. You are listening well to your Tour Guide, blessing others. I do have Holley's book and guide slotted as my next study to embark on. I look forward to seeing where it leads.

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    1. Hi Lynn,
      Glad you enjoyed a little virtual tour with the photos! :) Sometimes when we most resist, that's exactly what God nudges us to do and somehow he changes our heart in the process. I'm so happy to have found your blog recently so I can now accompany on your writing journey!

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  8. Your photos always captivate me, Valerie. I'm not much of a world traveler, nor do I travel very well, but I love the idea of touring the amazingness that God has created in each of us. Thanks for allowing us to live vicariously through you, friend.

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    1. Tiffany,
      I have to tell you that I'm not much of a traveler either. It stresses me out more than you can imagine so that's why it's so ironic that God nudged me to these journeys! I'm so grateful for your kind words here, Tiffany - -Happy Easter to you!

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  9. In like kind, I wonder if YOU realize how truly amazing you are! Honestly! You open new avenues of thought and realization with every article - so in tuned with God and our desire to be like Him. You amaze me constantly - I am SO proud of you! I look forward to your article weekly - and am so glad God has taken you down this wonderfully enchanting path...and that you are willing to share it with us!

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    1. Sharon,
      Good to hear from you again! You are so very kind with your words and I can only say I'm so grateful that you are still reading -- you have been here from the very beginning! xo

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  10. Valerie- This sounds so guide sounds so great! I loved the book but this is tempting me to get this guide too! I love your stories and pictures- Your time in Italy always sounds so amazing- Like the lunch on the lawn overlooking a lake with live music!! wow! Thanks for sharing all this! sending Easter hugs and love! xoxo

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    1. Susie,
      The guide really is a nice complement to the book and what a good refresher too! I know I need a pep talk every now and then (well, really every day, every hour sometimes it seems :)) I'm wishing you a lovely Easter, dear friend! xoxo

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  11. What a beautiful gathering of photos and word-pictures you have painted! And you've tied together those thoughts of "guiding our journeys" so well. May the Lord continue to bring Adventure to you!!

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    1. Hi Bettie,
      I'm so grateful you stopped by here and I'm glad you could accompany me on a little virtual tour! :)

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  12. You know, I'm always in search for a good book because I will admit I read them so fast. So this is definitely one I must pick up. And Valerie I just have to say thank you so much for the wonderful words you left on my blog and the email you sent me... I truly appreciate you. You should have mail in your inbox later on today :) xox

    Kia / KTS
    www.houseofkts.com

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    1. Kia,
      It's SO GOOD to see you around here again! I am glad you are back and sharing your amazing sense of style and design with us, friend! xo

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  13. Holley sure is a great guide. Love her guide book!

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    1. Sarah,
      Her upbeat and optimistic advice is always a welcome read!

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  14. Your Paris tour sounds amazing, it's so nice to see parts of the city that are normally hidden from view. We're returning there for a couple of days in a month's time. Happy Easter

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    1. So nice to have you stop by my little online corner of the world! How wonderful to be back in that gorgeous city -- I'm sure your trip will be wonderful!

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  15. You make me want to be more of an explorer! I love hearing about all your travels. :)

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    1. Amy,
      They could never compare with all the exotic places you've actually lived! :)

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