Taken by Surprise


I don’t like surprises very much. 

I think it’s because I’m an organized planner and surprises, of course, foil my best laid plans. 

I prefer to avoid having my lifeboat rocked by unpredictable waves and sudden wind gusts that catch me off guard and blow me away.

But last week I was surprised {several times over} and I think I’ve been wrong about surprises.

I’m not sure I want to live a life resisting the element of surprise.



For weeks, I’d been trying to make some decisions and I couldn’t seem to arrive at any conclusions.

When a friend I hadn’t seen in a year unexpectedly sent me a text, we made plans to meet for lunch. She so thoughtfully listened to my dilemmas and offered insightful input that I was sure her timely text was heaven-sent.

Then in just one day the fog cleared, clarity arrived and everything I’d been fretting about with work and finances and travel and friendships took me by surprise.


Do you ever wonder how God is working in the details of your everyday life? 

Even though I have questions and doubts, I know that when I can’t see what he’s doing, he’s always moving.

But the way God moves in our lives is everything I dislike about surprises. 

I can't anticipate or ever predict or be certain of his ways because of who he is. I will always be surprised by God, because there’s more to know than I can ever grasp with my finite mind.

And I realize that I desperately want a God like this. It can't be any other way.



He’s not controllable or able to be manipulated or pushed around. 

It's part of the magnificent, completely powerful and unpredictable nature of God to surprise.

So how can I have faith if I don’t like surprises? 

This walk of faith -- this belief in an unseen and invisible God -- is one unexpected, perpetual surprise. I’ll never be able to completely figure it out but I’m learning to surrender to the mystery.

When we move forward in faith, the element of surprise just can’t be eliminated. 



I stumbled upon the website of Elizabeth Minchilli, a writer living in Rome, who offers food tours of her favorite neighborhoods. 

She also hosts food-centric week-long adventures in Rome that sound delizioso. The week is filled with tours and tastings of mozzarella, pizza bianca and deep fried artichokes, a visit to one of Rome’s oldest bakeries, and dinner at one of the oldest wine shops. 

There's a cooking class, a private lunch at the American Academy of Rome, and cappuccinos as you roam with her all over Rome.

As I stared at the online photo of her book, I wondered why it looked so familiar. 



I looked over at my bookshelf and was surprised to see that I already had her book. Sitting there among my books was Eating Rome

Then I remembered I’d ordered it a year ago only because Amazon suggested it to qualify my order for free shipping. 

I wasn't planning to visit Rome but thought I’d browse it for the recipes. So I clicked, Add to my Cart and promptly forgot about the book until a few weeks ago.

I exchanged emails with Elizabeth who told me her fall tour was sold out but how about Rome in the spring? 



What really piqued my interest on the itinerary was a day trip to the village of Orvieto to visit an organic goat cheese farm. 

Now if you know anything about my love for goats {just kidding} how could I possibly pass up the opportunity of visiting a goat farm, not once but twice in my life, stateside in Atlanta and overseas in Rome? 

{You can read about my Atlanta goat farm adventure here.}

So I’m going to Rome in March. To meet some Italian goats. 

Where it should come as no surprise that I plan to be continually taken by surprise, pleasantly surprised and caught by surprise. 

Which of course, surprises even me.




I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Join me there for more posts from my blogger friends!




Comments

  1. Oh Valerie wow! You just wrote about goats in your last post too, right? God keeps me in awe...this made me smile wide, sitting here at my table. I love this and really needed this reminder today, that He isn't in the business of boring! I am so excited for you, and I am guessing you will come back with lots of photos too! You can experience anticipatory happiness (as Jennifer Dukes Lee wrote about) until then! Prayers & blessings ~ Your neighbor @ #CoffeeForYourHeart

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Meg,
      I noticed we were neighbors today -- love that! Haha -- I wrote about toads in a recent post -- I'm certainly not fond of creatures -- frogs, goats or otherwise -- so it's sort of hilarious to me that I'll be meeting some Italian goats! Thank you so much for sharing my anticipation! xo

      Delete
  2. Hi Valerie,
    Oh, I love how God had set up this surprise for you over a year ago! He is so good to let us see how HE is at work in the details. And I also want to keep learning more about how "to surrender to the mystery." I can't wait to hear the stories and see the pictures that you bring back to share with us. You have such a beautiful way of bringing us along with you! --Blessings and Hugs to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bettie,
      Yes! I thought the same thing -- the wheels were already turning a year ago, when I had no idea! It sort of sends a shiver of delight down my spine, wondering what other things I can't possibly see now but God is working for my good! xo

      Delete
  3. What a God-thing that your friend unexpectedly contacted you! I'm so glad you get to go to Rome, Valerie, and I'm looking forward to your sharing with your lively words and photos. This paragraph especially moves me - "This walk of faith -- this belief in an unseen and invisible God -- is one unexpected, perpetual surprise. I’ll never be able to completely figure it out but I’m learning to surrender to the mystery." Amen!

    I took some photos of a frog yesterday, and I thought of you - "I just have to tell Valerie what a frog reminds me!" FROG... Forever Rely On God :) Blessings and hugs to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Trudy,
      Well I am certainly delighted that every time you look at a frog, you may think of me! (LOVE that!) And I'm not sure frogs can remind me of God . . . but your acronym is pretty amusing! Come back from your break Trudy and write your blog again for us! xo

      Delete
  4. An Italian adventure - how fun!! So excited for you. Yes - it's amazing how just when we think God has gone silent, He up and surprises us by showing us that He has always - will always - be working on our behalf. I want to live with that expectancy and faith too. Blessings, friend. Can't wait to follow more of your adventures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tiffany,
      The silence has a way of overwhelming us, doesn't it? But I am so glad God promises to always work on our behalf. Thank you friend, I'm so grateful you follow along! xo

      Delete
  5. Hi Valerie-
    This is so great! I am so exceed for your trip! (Somehow it feels like I get to go too:) I love your blog and reading about your adventures and learning from your walk with God! I too cannot stand surprises- and you said it so well! You understand!!! :) I just like to know whats coming and have time to ready myself or something I guess. Thanks for this new perspective- I have also been thinking about Gods character a lot and the unpredictable parts that feel scary to me- God is speaking to me through your post tonight! Thanks so much!! So excited to hear about the goats too!! with much love

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Susie,
      I love that you said you feel as if you come along with me on a trip! :) So you don't like surprises either?! I'm always baffled by friends who say they love surprises --that terrifies me! So many questions about what would I do, say, react come to the surface but with a little time I eventually adjust -- it just takes me awhile to get there! :) Thanks for your words here!

      Delete
  6. I am so excited and so jealous of you! Have fun in Italy! But I am loving the part of one sentence you when you said about learning to surrender to the mystery of God through faith. It really does remind me of the verse in Hebrews 11:6 where we need the faith to trust in God, the God who rewards us when we diligently seek Him. Love this! I cant wait till the spring! : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kristina,
      The mystery of faith isn't easy for me since I like to KNOW and be certain and be sure that I'm sure, but I guess that's what makes faith, faith. And thank you for being excited about my trip! :)

      Delete
  7. I cannot wait to virtually travel with you! Goats included, it should be a fun adventure! It's so refreshing when God shows up with just the right thing that we never even realized we needed or already had...! I know part of accepting his surprises as good is trusting Him and His ways- and I've been getting a good lesson in that lately. Praying for more surprising revelations for you in the months to come!♥ And I love the picture with the red flowers against that blue water... lovely as always Valerie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Heather,
      It's always about the goats, isn't it?! Oh you hit the nail on the head -- it is so refreshing when God surprisingly brings us something unexpected! Thank you for your prayers, dear friend!

      Delete
  8. LOVE that you are going to meet some Italian goats! You have come so far in your affection for goat farms... I cannot wait to see what is in store!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another opportunity for hilarity, right?! Get your goat puns ready because I'll need them! xo

      Delete
  9. Yes! More goat pictures! :)
    Human surprises can be less than ideal, but God surprises rock!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarah,
      Ah yes, -- we first became friendly over goats and chickens, didn't we?! So you'll have a few months to wait but I shall be thinking of you as I meet my new goat friends and see how they differ from Atlanta goats!! xo

      Delete
  10. I know you are already acquainted with goats at this point, but I'm happy to answer any further questions as you prepare for your Italian goat adventure. This is very exciting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Okay Ben, you cracked me up! Yes, indeed, you are the first (and no doubt only!) person I would consult on the life and times of goats -- you are a wealth of knowledge! Thanks for being excited for me!

      Delete
  11. I so appreciate you sharing how God is working in your life, behind the scenes, and then popping in front of you--surprise! It gives me hope. And I so love your pictures, as always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lynn,
      I am so missing your words on your blog -- I hop over there every week to see if you have a new post -- hope all is well and you are enjoying your summer, friend! Thanks for your sweet words here!

      Delete
  12. Ahhh!! A trip to Italy?!?! You're right, this is a perk of being single for sure! :) I can't wait for you to go and for you to tell us all about it!!

    You know what? I'm not big on surprises either. I'm a recovering control freak. But the good thing about God is that his surprises are always wonderful. Just like this trip! I'm so giddy for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kylie,
      Yes, I think the single life may just be the best place I could possibly be right now! And I'm working on the surprise part -- learning to tolerate them first and then moving on to enjoying from there -- baby steps! :)

      Delete
  13. I love this Valerie! I am so excited and happy for you! I am right there with you, not liking surprises very much. I have to keep reminding myself time and time again that so often, our God works in the unexpected. His ways are higher than our ways after all, right? What an interesting, amazing experience you have coming your way, though. So exciting! God bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ronja,
      I am so excited to see your comment here since I lost track of your blog feed in my RSS! I am really excited about the trip and I know you can relate being much more traveled and much more adventurous than I am, friend! xo

      Delete
  14. Can't wait to see what adventures and surprises await you in Rome...I am already looking forward to the photos! Your much-valued support has often come at just the right time in my life as well...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahh, so good to see you here, dear friend! You were the first in a week full of surprises and your words meant so much more than you know! You are the one who first said, many years ago, "you should write a blog . . . " xoxoxo

      Delete
  15. Now that's an amazing surprise! What a wonderful and exciting trip for you to look forward to. I love this: "When we move forward in faith, the element of surprise just can’t be eliminated." I needed that today. I'm not big on surprises either :). Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love that you're off to another adventure, friend ... think I might fit in your suitcase?

    Can't wait to hear every detail!

    ;-}

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading -- I love to hear your comments! To leave a comment, you can choose an ID in the "comment as" box or just choose anonymous. Choose your ID first, write your comment in the box and hit publish. Your comment will be visible just as soon as I can post it!

Popular Posts