Wednesday, May 3, 2017

When You Could Use Some Prior Knowledge


Now that I’ve returned from my trip to Rome, I’ve been combing through my photos {all 3,123 of them}, trying to pinpoint exactly what I took pictures of. 

I recognize the major landmarks, of course, like the Colosseum and Vatican, but it’s the neighborhoods and fountains and piazzas I can't always identify.

Even though I carried a tiny notebook in my purse to jot down names and places, I soon realized it was impossible to pull out a pen and paper while following our tour-guide-host, juggling my camera and snapping photos. 

So I never once wrote anything down.

It was all I could to keep a grip on my bag, dangle my camera off my other arm and not twist an ankle as I kept an eye on the uneven cobblestone streets.




I took a lot of photos of churches too, that I'm not sure of.

There's one around every corner in Rome, and it seems as if half of them have Santa Maria as part of their name.

Some churches had their names above the door {although in Latin or Italian} which helped since I could snap a photo to remember. Some churches had cute little gift shops where I could buy a postcard or bookmark. 

But most names of the churches in my photos are still a mystery to me and it's going to take some research to figure out exactly where I've been.





I've been rereading my guidebook, scouring the library's history and travel sections, and ordering books on Amazon.

Which seems as if I'm going about this whole thing a little backwards since I should have spent more time gathering knowledge about Rome before I got there, not after my visit.

To cut myself some slack, I did do some reading -- since I'm a planner at heart -- but even six months to prepare was just not enough time for me to conquer all there was to know about Rome.

Like the little elephant statue I'd never heard of.



On our last day in Rome, the foodie-tour-group-host told us to meet her at the elephant statue for our farewell coffee. 

Elephant statue? I looked at her blankly. I hadn't come across an elephant statue the entire week.

You can’t miss it, she said. It’s quite famous.

She said this about nearly everything in Rome. {And it's true, of course.} 

But not knowing about the elephant statue only reinforced the idea that I should have spent more time learning about what I was going to see.

{Especially when I shot dozens of photos inside a building I thought was the Pantheon -- that's it below -- only to discover I was in a nearby church instead.}




A little knowledge makes a big difference. The more you know, the more you can control. Not just in Rome, but in life.

{Or so we think.}

We can make our plans - - about what we'll do for a career, who we'll marry, where we'll live, how our family will grow -- and we can set our goals because as long as we know what we want, we can make it happen.

{That's what we've been told, haven't we?}

But I've realized that knowledge about how life should work doesn't always correlate to how God works through our skills and experiences and education that form our earthly knowledge.

Because if I yield to how he's working in my life, he's offering me something far better.  

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! -Rom. 11:33 {NIV}


Just thinking about how he's moving the pieces of my life around to form a complex and exquisite pattern beyond my understanding brings me joy. 

It doesn't matter if I can figure it out now or in the future or when I someday stand in his presence, it's enough for me to trust him. His depth and richness are unfathomable.

That's why after years of living in the strength of my efforts to plan and arrange and control, I'm taking only the portion of God's wisdom and grace that I need for today. 

Because tomorrow there will be a new serving of it -- I think of it as a manna of sorts, just enough for one day -- inviting me to help myself to what I need.

And knowing that is enough for me to ease up and rest in that knowledge.

Even when there's a centuries-old elephant statue in Rome that I hadn't heard of. 




So when I finally located the piazza and saw the elephant up close, I thought it was rather unimpressive. 

I thought it would be bigger. Kids were running around it and tourists were resting on its base.

But now I feel a little sheepish since the elephant statue is actually more than a little famous. It was created by the Renaissance sculptor Bernini in the 1600s, and it was all over the news just six months ago.

Vandals damaged the 350-year-old elephant by breaking off one of its tusks, and Romans were understandably indignant.



It’s been repaired now, but had I known, I would have taken a closer look. 

So last week the book I ordered from Amazon about Bernini and his elephant statue arrived.

I added it to my stack of books on Rome growing ever taller on my dining room table, and hoped that it will give me some insight on remembering the tourist spots in my travel photos.

I've heard, after all, that an elephant never forgets. 



I'm having coffee with Holley Gerth at Coffee for your Heart.



36 comments:

  1. Reading your posts about Rome and seeing your lovely pictures reminds me of the Audrey Hephburn movie, Roman Holiday! (But I don't recall seeing any elephant statue in that movie either! haha) And it certainly rings true that the more we know the more we think we can control... except that's not God's way for us. And I think it's so funny that we both used pictures of us taking pictures this week on the blog! Here's to remembering the blessings of where we've been and letting God guide the way forward, little by little each day! With over 3,000 pictures to choose from, I can't wait to see and hear more stories! ♥ xo

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    1. Hi Heather,
      Yes I wondered if we were on the same wavelength too when we posted photos of ourselves with cameras . . . hmmm . . . we record life in snapshots! And watching Roman Holiday again was on my list to do BEFORE I went to Rome, but I never got to it -- maybe I'll enjoy re-watching it more now that I've ben there! :) xoxo

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  2. Was your time in Rome part of a "food tour?" My daughter would think she'd died and gone to heaven!!! Love your shares about the trip.

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    1. Hi Susan,
      Yes it was a food tour by Elizabeth Minchilli who wrote the book Eating Rome. I welcome your daughter to check it out!

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  3. Wow! That's a lot of pictures to sort through, Valerie. I wish you success. The pictures surely show a lot of character in the architecture. The story behind that elephant sounds like it may add more depth and meaning to that statute. I hope you will share more about it.

    This line especially speaks to me - "Because if I yield to how he's working in my life, he's offering me something far better." And followed by that awesome verse, I can't help but think how much our resistance and wanting to go our own way can keep us from learning more of the depths of the riches of His wisdom and knowledge. Thank you for this reminder, my friend. Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Hi Trudy,
      I have to admit I never noticed that verse before but I just love the last part of it that says his paths are beyond tracing out -- I love the image of it! And my photo (yes, one of the 3,000+) of the ceiling in one of the churches seemed to illustrate it since those patterns were so intricate.

      Thanks as always for cheering me on here, my friend! I look forward to your encouragement. xoxo

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    1. Brittany,
      Which ones did you see when you were in Rome? :)

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  5. It's fun to hear more about your trip to Rome and I love the insights you draw from it. I am a planner and a controller, and my natural response to anything new or stressful is to over-prepare and try to find out all the information I can. I'm slowly learning that it's okay that I don't know everything that's in store but it's about taking it one step at a time and trusting that God knows what he's doing and has better plans than I could ever understand.

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    1. Hi Lesley,
      Ah - so nice to know another planner and controller! We are works in progress, my friend! :)

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  6. Dear Valerie,
    Wow, you are an amazing photo-collector! And you are blessed with a wonderful way of combining those photos to tell us the stories of your days. This thought is touching my heart especially: "it's going to take some research to figure out exactly where I've been." Isn't that what God is doing for us throughout our lifetime? We think we know the purpose of our journey, but then over time, as we walk more paths with Him, He reveals where we have really been with Him! Thank you so much for sharing your stories and your heart, I so look forward to your posts! Blessings, Love and Hugs!

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    1. Bettie,
      You are such an encouragement with your sweet words about my posts! Your words said it more eloquently than I could about our journey, time and walking our paths -- beautiful! xoxo

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  7. Valerie,
    A delightful read and photos as always :-) I didn't know about the little elephant and I didn't see it when I visited Rome many years ago. This is so true: "Because if I yield to how he's working in my life, he's offering me something far better." That is what God keeps reminding me lately. Many blessings on you <3

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    1. Hi Dolly,
      I'm so glad you weren't aware of the elephant either - makes me feel so much better! :) Maybe he's a well-kept little secret! :) xo

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  8. This was a timely post for me to read. Trusting God for my serving of manna tomorrow.
    Be Blessed & Refreshed,
    ~Sherry Stahl
    xoxo

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    1. Sherry,
      Your comment made it! So grateful that you kept on trying -- and even more grateful for your friendship! xo

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  9. Hi Valerie
    So glad you are back! I missed your post last week!! I love your pictures and your beautiful blog! So many great thoughts here. I want to control things so badly and like you said here and have such a pretty picture painted of how things should go- then when they don’t and things are hard I get pouty and wonder if God forgot me-and then as things settle and I get some perspective I see that He was up to something much bigger and better than I could have ever dreamed. He pours out grace and kindness in deep ways- meeting needs i didn’t know I had. I love the thought too that God will give me what I need for each day! I love the elephant statue! I like elephants I guess- I have always wanted to see one in the wild.:) Anyway- so happy to connect with you tonight! I hope all is well. Sending hugs and love

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    1. Susie,
      Your words always bring such joy to my heart! I feel the same way about reading your posts -- it's like you've sent me a little letter and I miss you when you take a week off (although I completely understand it!) So glad you liked the elephant photos -- what a dream to see one someday -- maybe a trip to Africa is in your future someday? :) Always joining you in zooming out and seeing the bigger perspective I somehow keep losing sight of but trusting God will show me more in time! xo

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  10. Wow, Val, you have over 3,100 pictures! I have a hard time remembering with 500 pictures of a trip! You're doing great. Kind of be neat to have a GPS on the camera that embeds the location data into the digital picture, wouldn't it. The photos of lovely, and the message. A daily dose of God's wisdom and grace...I'm holding on to that today message today. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Lynn,
      I think there is some kind of GPS thingie (at least I read about one) but the trick would be to figure out how to use it! :) Thanks for reading, friend!

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  11. You are quite the photographer, Valerie! Always love checking out your adventures. Hope you are doing well this month of May so far! (May yikes!!)

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    1. Hi Meg,
      Nice to see you pop in here! It is hard to believe we've made it to May already - hope you will soon enjoy time off with your little ones! :)

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  12. Will you be telling us "the rest of the story" of Bernini's elephant that our host related? - Mom

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    1. I'll let you know what I find out once I read the book (and I might even lend it to you!) haha

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  13. Another beautiful adventure and the wisdom that goes along with it. I wrote down the other day that I don't want to be so focused on what I "should" be doing that I miss what I "can" be doing in the moment. We can so fixed on our ideas and plans, and like you said, we miss the beautiful intricacy that God is weaving into us. I don't want to miss that!

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    1. Hi Tiffany,
      You're so right -- I get something in my head about the way it should turn out and have a hard time seeing what else might be hiding in plain view that I've missed! xo

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  14. Oh, my goodness! I just love reading about your adventures and seeing your lovely photos. Even though it is making it harder for you to figure out now, after the fact, I am glad you were able to just be in the moments in front of you and enjoy your time there. And, by the way, your Mom has my curiosity completely peaked about "the rest of the story" of Bernini's elephant. Hmm...can't wait to hear about that, hopefully?

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    1. Hi Cheryl,
      For sure, there will be more stories about Rome, coming in the future! :)

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  15. If it makes you feel any better, I've never heard of the elephant either. He is kind of cute though!

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    1. Sarah,
      I'm grateful for anyone who can join in needing some more knowledge! :)

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  16. Beautiful photos and thoughts here, Valerie!

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  17. 3000+ photos. Wow, Valerie! I continue to be mesmerized by the beauty of the rich colors, the variety of doors on all those wonderful buildings, and the life lessons you've gleaned and are kind enough to share ...

    Blessings as you continue to muse on all you've taken in, friend.

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  18. "It's going to take some research to figure out exactly where I've been." Valerie, sometimes this is applies to more than vacation pictures, don't you think? I do love your pictures, though, and your stories, and your thoughts about how it all ties together. :-)

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    1. Yes, Lois, you're right! So much about traveling really applies to life, doesn't it?

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