Take the Twilight Tour



I’ve been on this boat tour around the lake maybe a dozen times or more.

I’m here the day after Christmas and I’ve never seen it so crowded. Four boats are leaving the docks by the time we reach the ticket office and the last tour of the day is full.

This scenic boat tour around one of Orlando's prettiest neighborhoods is one that I always recommend to friends and family who come to visit.

A pontoon boat winds through a chain of lakes with views of stately homes, Florida wildlife and a historic college campus that's quite picturesque.

The boat drivers suddenly announce they’ll add a twilight tour but seats are limited. We manage to nab tickets and wait with the other holiday latecomers to board the last boat of the day.


As we chug across the water under bridges so low we have to duck and through skinny canals that bump our boat, the wind is cool and the sun is setting. The other times I’ve been on this tour the sun has been blazing and bright.

This scenery looks much different to me now at dusk. The shadows and swirls of gray clouds in the sky make the scene feel unfamiliar.

Flocks of birds sit atop the trees as we cruise by, and the homes' outdoor twinkling lights are coming on, mixing melancholy and cheer.

The boat ride is surprisingly strange yet lovely. This familiar scenery looks entirely different in a new light.


The brink of a new year is the time I usually think about intentions and a word that will inspire me for the next 365 days.

But I’m not sure just one word is meant to encapsulate this new year of 2018 for me.

It seems as if there are innumerable words and thoughts vying for my attention that unless I'm on the alert and watchful, I'll miss the call to move onward and forward.

I wonder if sometimes the old familiar pathways of our lives can become so predictable that we fail to recognize the new thing God is doing because it feels so different, challenging and maybe even a little uncomfortable.


But maybe there's a curve on the trail, a bend in the road we didn't see coming that invites us to take a step of faith.

We've seen our wildest dreams die in the past and what we've worked hard to create crumble away into little pieces. We've lost heart and hope. Our little boat filled with our aspirations is rusted and lies overturned on a pile of dead leaves.

We can't even bring ourselves to stand on the edge of a fresh new year with anything but the smallest seeds of trust, wondering if God can grow anything from what's been chopped down without a sprout of green in sight.



But I need to be reminded.

{And maybe you do, too?}

About these verses from the book of Isaiah that I've read a hundred times over the years. They stare starkly up at me in black and white as I turn the page today, as if they've been waiting there for some time for me.

Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.  - Is. 43:18-19



So I wonder if maybe this is the year that you should take the twilight tour?

Buy the last ticket.

Step off the dock.

Get in the boat.

There's no guarantee, of course, that any of the things we're uncertain about in our lives will turn out as we hope.

But keeping our eyes on God, we know nothing is impossible, and with faith we just might be able to walk on the water.

Will you join me in hoping that 2018 is the year we discover something new we've never before experienced with God?



I'm joining my friends at Holley Gerth's place for Coffee for your Heart.



Comments

  1. As always I love your photos, Valerie, and the Twilight Tour sounds amazing. Yes, no matter how well we plan or how many goals we have, we don't really know what this year will hold. We just have to step out, trusting God, and being open to the new things he wants to do. Hope 2018 is a great year for you!

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    1. Hi Lesley,
      Happy New Year! Your words hold so much truth since we can make all the plans and goals we'd like but we have no idea where the next 365 days will take us and maybe that's just part of the doors to adventure that God is holding open for us! Hoping the coming year brings beauty and joy to you! xo

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  2. You have inspired me to take this tour! Sounds great for out of towners! I didn't know it existed before! Beautiful photos!

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    1. Brittany,
      I think you'd like the tour, especially with your water experience, and dinner or lunch on Park Avenue afterward is a delightful bonus! :)

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    2. You know I love the water!

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  3. I'm delighted you're back, Valerie! Your photos and message are so beautiful and heartfelt. That boat ride sounds awesome. You really give me pause to ponder. It reminds me how differently we can view our lives, depending on what season we are in. It's so true how we lose heart and hope for something different. I'm so with you in keeping my heart open to the new that God wants to lead us into! Thank you for this encouragement to fix our eyes on our God who can do far beyond what we can ever imagine. Have a Blessed 2018! Hugs!

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    1. Trudy,
      Thank you for your welcome :) and I'm going to try to get back in the blogging groove after my mini-break! I think it's such a mystery how we can be in the same place with the same circumstances but our eyes are seeing things much differently -- maybe they call that growth or maturity?! Hoping 2018 brings you many blessings too, friend! xo

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  4. Well welcome back, dear Valerie. You've been missed and I hope that your Christmastime break was exactly what you needed to fill your soul.

    Your words today spoke to something deep inside ... I can't quite figure out what and why, even after two readings.

    A new thing. It's in there somewhere. A creature of habit and one who loves her safe comfort zone ... a new thing could be daunting. But it also could give me wings.

    I so appreciate your wisdom and the beauty of your lens ...

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    1. Linda,
      I'm so glad you're back here, visiting with me too! Oh yes -- I'm a creature of habit with my routines and comfort zones too, so stepping out is a challenge for me but I'm trying to be a freer, more flexible version of myself - -haha! Wishing you the happiest of new years, friend! xoxo

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  5. This is beautiful Valerie. Twilight is often the prettiest time of day, just before dark when things begin to still. hmm......xx

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    1. Hi Debby,
      Just before dark is sometimes the best times of our lives, but we just don't know it yet, right?! Happy new year to you! xo

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  6. "I wonder if sometimes the old familiar pathways of our lives can become so predictable that we fail to recognize the new thing God is doing because it feels so different, challenging and maybe even a little uncomfortable."

    Loved this. All of it was beautiful and spot on with a lot going on in my neck of the woods, Valerie. Gorgeous pics. Happy new year 2018!

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    1. Meg,
      I'm so glad to see you here! I have to hop over to your online place and see what you've been up to! Hope all that's going on with you is good and I'm hoping 2018 is a year of abundance for you! xo

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  7. Hi Valerie! So happy to see your post! I have missed you! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Years! Such a meaningful post to start out the new year! Thank you!! I love that verse-I often forget the adjusting something “new” takes. Like a new pair of shoes it is a bit uncomfortable at first and you wonder is you chose well. I don’t have a word for this year either. I could think of a few but nothing has settled so far. Maybe its because the house is full and decorations still up. My heart and mind haven’t had time to slow enough to think from the real places in my heart.Anyway- so happy to meet with you here today! xoxoxox

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    1. Susie,
      I've missed you too and hope you're back to sharing your beautiful art with us soon! I love your analogy about something new being like a new pair of shoes -- your words speak so much truth about that situation to me! I hope you're enjoying your house full of kids and I'm praying 2018 is a beautiful and amazing year for you. Sending much love! xoxo

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  8. Oh, sweet friend! This is the EXACT verse God keeps taking me to, time after time! It has stood out to me so much the past few days...I have tried to ponder whether or not it is THE verse God wants me to use as a life verse for this new year. I am struggling to come up with a "one word" for the year, also. Just SO much happening in our lives and so many emotions right now....our hearts are SO broken. I loved reading about your tour and how it looked so different in the twilight. It is amazing how things can look so differently when viewed through a different lens. I am praying for you often...your name is permanently written in my prayer list book, and I often lift you to the Father. I am believing Him to fulfill the wonderful things that He showed me are in your future!!! I can't wait to hear about the wonderful things He does in your life this year!

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    1. Cheryl,
      I know you've had a really difficult year and I'm so glad you can relate to this verse showing up often too! When things are uncertain in our lives, it's hard to look forward with anticipation to a new year but that's when we need to, I think. I'm so grateful for your prayers and friendship and I'm praying 2018 is a new year of abundance and joy and peace for you! xoxo

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  9. I loved these thoughts here, Valerie! What a wonderful thing it is that there is always something new for us to learn about God! We often learn the best lessons through heartbreak and hurt -- so it is easy to lose trust and hope in the midst of all that. I'm praying that the new year brings great lessons and beauty to you, friend!

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    1. Hi Ronja,
      So happy to see you here! I love seeing your Instagram posts and feel as if I'm in Finland with you! :) I'm praying 2018 is a year of fresh beginnings for you as you step into a new career and experience the adventure God has in store for you! xoxo

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  10. So I wonder if maybe this is the year that you should take the twilight tour?
    Buy the last ticket.
    Step off the dock.
    Get in the boat.
    There's no guarantee, of course, that any of the things we're uncertain about in our lives will turn out as we hope.
    But keeping our eyes on God, we know nothing is impossible, and with faith we just might be able to walk on the water.
    Will you join me in hoping that 2018 is the year we discover something new we've never before experienced with God?

    I am so joining you, Valerie. I'm on the trail to that discovery.

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    1. Susan,
      Glad to have you along on the journey as together, we discover something new! xoxo

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  11. Loved the new view on the old boat tour which is a favorite of mine too -

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    1. The tour guide told us it's one of the oldest continuous boat tours!

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  12. I was one of those tourist you recommended the boat tour to and happy that you did! A one word for a whole does seem constricting especially when God can take us around a corner completely unexpected for a journey He knows will grow us deeper in relationship with Him. So refreshing to read your words and see your pictures today Valerie! Yes, will join you to be open to the adventures of 2018 with an open heart and mind that all is always well when we walk with Him!

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    1. Lynn,
      I was so glad you enjoyed it! It's a must-see in Orlando if you want a break from the theme parks! I love your words about an open heart -- that is the most important part of our journey, isn't it? I'm joining you with a heart to follow after all God has for us in 2018!

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  13. Dear Valerie,
    Oh it's so good to see you back again with your beautiful words and photos! May I let the Lord open my heart to the new that He has in mind for this year! On these days after the Holiday activities, when I feel so weary, I know that I would choose the safe & predictable path if left to my own devices. But then I would miss that beautiful sunset, and that gorgeous twilight view that He would want to share with me. Thank you for giving from your heart here! May the Lord bless you richly this New Year, with New gifts from Him. xoxo

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    1. Hi Bettie,
      I've been thinking about you and hoping 2018 brings you joy, peace and good health! It's so true that we can easily miss that sunset or moonrise or twilight while we're in the midst of something difficult and sometimes it takes a little faith to lean out and embrace them. Thank you for your love and encouragement all year, friend! xoxo

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  14. Oh Valerie ... I've missed your words and am so glad I waited to read this until a time when I could really soak it in. I totally get what you mean about familiar scenery looking different in new light because Lilly has been practicing driving at night lately and I've been along for the ride as her "coach." In our case, it seems like the dark holds a lot of hazards--deer, fog, strange reflections on wet pavement, bright oncoming lights--but navigating these things is developing confidence in Lilly that wasn't there before. I love your encouragement to take those steps of faith that might seem intimidating or scary ... God IS doing a new thing, always going before us, always staying with us. Hugs, friend, and a very happy new year to you!

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    1. Hi Lois,
      Happy new year and thank you for your kind words -- they mean a lot! I can imagine that learning to drive at night is treacherous to a teen but I love what you said about that building confidence in your daughter. It's the same for us when we navigate unfamiliar waters -- God builds our confidence, one step at a time -- I love that word picture! xoxo

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