A Full Plate

I joined the ranks of vacation visitors to Orlando {for a few hours anyway} when I became a tourist in my own hometown.

My mother, sister and I took a foodie walking tour of the neighborhood of Winter Park, and I asked my sister if she thought we should get a ticket for my niece Devon, who is nine and an extremely finicky eater. 

She said Devon really wanted to go with us and she pledged to try something new at every stop. {Devon later downgraded this optimistic outlook to 40%, worried she had set too ambitious a goal for herself.} 

Our foodie maps in hand to navigate the way to six eateries, we kicked off our tour at a wine bar with mimosas and slices of artisan bread spread with basil pesto, topped with buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and drizzled with a balsamic reduction.

Devon was served a very tall glass of orange juice {instead of a mimosa, of course} and I immediately thought we might be off to a less than desirable start.

Even though she's never wanted to taste orange juice in her life, she took a sip, shrugged and took another sip.

So far, so good. This might turn out better than I thought.

We moved on to the Ancient Olive, tasting premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars, with exotic flavors like fig, chocolate and lavender. The owner quizzed us on which country we thought made the most olive oil. 

Our group included a well-traveled couple who were also posing as local tourists for the day, but only Devon was brave enough to venture a guess from three choices offered by the shop owner.

She said Spain. 

And she was right.

As we slurped our olive oil samples {as instructed} I wondered how she knew. 

Later she told me after listening to my stories about traveling to Italy, she’d never heard me talk about seeing olives, so she figured there must not be any or I’d have mentioned them. 

That made me laugh.

But it seemed as if all of a sudden I noticed how much of a grown-up Devon was becoming. 

She walked beside our tour guide, chatting about her favorite foods, strawberries and chocolate {eaten separately, of course, never together}. 

She told our fellow tour-goer {who was an airline pilot} about her school project on the Wright brothers.

And when she was a little disappointed to see the chocolate and ice cream stops were the very last on our tour, she waited patiently while we tasted tea at a spice shop and sampled pizza topped with chicken and catupiry. 

{Have you heard of catupiry? I discovered it’s a mild Brazilian cheese developed by an Italian immigrant, which explains its puzzling heritage.}

We finished our pizza and wine and kept on walking to the fudge store, where we sampled apple cobbler ice cream and then made it to our last stop at Peterbrooke Chocolatier.

Finally Devon could enjoy something she liked, chocolate covered popcorn.

I loved how this tour gave me a fresh perspective on all that seemed so familiar. 

And it left me feeling pretty full. But not just with flavorful food and divine drinks.

For a while now I’ve been praying to live my life abundantly, despite what my circumstances might be saying to me.

My prayer is for a life filled with joy, hope and faith. 

Yet, sometimes it seems that what I’m experiencing is the exact opposite of what I’ve been praying for. 

Or is it?

How else could I establish unwavering faith in God’s goodness, unless I find myself believing it despite the little carrot dangling in front of me that's yanked away just when I reach for it?

How else could I expand my narrow definition of what makes me happy unless I determine to find joy even when I'm disappointed?

How else could I redefine what’s hopeful to me unless I see past what’s making me feel downhearted and seems so impossible?

And how else could I get filled up unless I first realized I was empty?

When I feel a little panicky about time or the future or my purpose or place, I'm going to remember these words that were were impressed on my heart by God:

{And maybe you could use them too.}

There’s still plenty of time, but I don’t want you to miss this.

I think my delicious plate right in front of me is already abundantly full.

I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Click the image to visit the posts of my blogger friends!


  1. Your post made my heart abundantly full...♥ And it skipped a beat to read (of all things) your reference to a carrot dangled in front of you--- because just this morning I was trying to comfort a friend with a similar analogy in a situation where things didn't quite work out... Sometimes the thing we think we want (that carrot!), is just a catalyst to get us to move forward to the better things God really has for us. Change and growth are God's purpose and he can use anything to get us there. I'm so glad the food tour was full of fresh perspective (and food!) Gotta love Miss Devon! ♥ What a blessing you all are to me! Here's to a full plate of seeing God's provision right in front of us. ♥

    1. Heather,
      That's so interesting about the carrot reference because I couldn't decide whether or not to leave it in. I almost deleted it and am so glad I didn't! How wise of you to say that often the carrot is just the catalyst -- that is so true in my experience. Here's to growth and change for both of us -- and yes, Devon is truly a treasure! xoxo

  2. "There’s still plenty of time, but I don’t want you to miss this." I needed this today! I wrote down three scenarios just yesterday, directions I can take and an element of fear is wrapped around each of them. Fear of failure as well as making the wrong decision. And I just see time ticking away...its really a matter of trust isn't it? And, as you point out so wisely, to see now with a fresh perspective of daily miracles in our ordinary.

    1. Hi Lynn,
      I can relate to hesitation in decision-making and for me it's often that I'm afraid of making the wrong one. But of course we will at times, because we're human, but who of us is right all the time?! :) I'm so glad you shared your perspective -- I always love hearing what you have to say! xo

  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed the food tour, Valerie. :) Devon really makes me smile. She is one smart little gal! Takes after her auntie, huh? :) The apple cobbler ice cream sounds much more appealing than ice cream made with peas! :) Thank you for sharing also what God impressed on your heart and the encouragement to remember the plate we have right in front of us in already full. I want to rejoice in that with you instead of worrying about the morrow. Blessings and hugs to you!

    1. Hi Trudy,
      You didn't say -- have you heard of catupiry cheese? I was thinking you might have since you have a farm background! And yes, the apple cobbler ice cream tasted just like real pie and so much better than peas! :) Devon is a little gem and thank you for always being so encouraging, friend! xo

    2. Nope. I have never heard of catupiry cheese. :) I just had to look it up. It sounds like it's a mild-tasting cheese one can spread. It sounds good! I love cheese, especially sharp cheddar and colby. Have you ever tasted Gouda cheese? It's Dutch. We love that, too. We have gotten a wheel or half a wheel of it from Canada or Wisconsin many years ago. We have a cheese store here in Sioux Falls, but we only once treated ourselves with a little chunk of it as it's far more expensive than it used to be. Hugs to you, my friend!

    3. I love cheese too! In fact I could eat a spread of cheese and crackers and be completely happy! I love Gouda, too, it is so good! I'm fascinated by all the different flavors and would love to do some more "research" ie. touring and eating cheese! You know, when I go to Rome in the spring I'm visiting a goat farm to sample goat cheese. That should be totally hilarious!

    4. I'm looking forward to hearing more about how goat cheese tastes. :) Also to hear some of your tales about goats. :) Years ago one of my 1st grade students brought a goat to the classroom. We let him roam around, but we had a laugh when all of a sudden he started eating a stack of papers on a shelf in the back of the room. :)

    5. Trudy,
      Oh my goodness! I've got to hear about a goat in your classroom! Blog about it someday -- SOON! :)

  4. This is so sweet! The food tour sounds and looks delicious!!! -Brittany

    1. Brittany,
      It was -- I think you'd like it too! You should go sometime!

  5. Oh you've made me hungry again, Valerie! Both physically and spiritually! "how else could I get filled up unless I first realized I was empty?" Love this thought, and the way that you connected the photo of the archway path with the thoughts that God led you to. Thank you for always opening my heart to look at life around me with fresh vision!! --Hugs and Blessings!

    1. Bettie,
      Wasn't that arch pretty? I'd never been behind that building behind to be able to get a shot like that - -a new angle is always exciting! Thanks for virtually traveling along with me! xo

  6. What a delicious journey on so many counts. I love that you were able to see something familiar with fresh eyes and expressing gratitude for it's goodness. Friend, your photography is just awesome. I envy your eye and I love your heart. xoxo

    1. Hi Tiffany,
      I sometimes forget I'm supposed to be taking photos when I'm out touring and then it's too late to sometimes to get a good photo! So grateful that you're here to share in the goodness! xo

  7. Oh my friend,
    "How else could I get filled up unless I first realized I was empty?" I love this. When I see it from this perspective, I realize I want to stop fearing the emptiness...maybe even embrace it. Because it's just more space for him to rush in. And when I tell myself I'm filled in order to avoid the negative feelings that come along with being empty, I'm crowding him out. I love that you see him in every piece of your life, including the food crawls! PS: I NEVER would have guessed Spain?! I can't wait to bust out that trivia with a few people!! :)

    1. Kylie,
      I have such a hard time embracing the hard times, but that's where the beauty is, I'm finding and I think I've lived too long in the neutral zone, like you were writing about today, too. It's there in the hard, the lonely, the hopeless places that we truly find what we need, isn't it? And it's rarely like we thought . . . xoxo

  8. I am so glad that you had a good birthday weekend! I should seriously try to find a foodie tour like that. It just sounds fun. I could be definitely a stingy eater like your niece but I do like trying things that most people don't think sound good. Have you have tired Asparagus pizza? Typical pizza dough with asparagus on top with some sort of cheese and when it is almost done cooking put a egg on top for another 5 minutes. amazing!
    Embracing life in the here and now takes contentment. No matter where each of us are in life it is about being content in every moment. It is so hard when one's present circumstances aren't ideal or what you thought your life would be like. With contentment bring God's amazing peace.
    hope you have a good weekend

    1. Kristina,
      Your pizza recipe is intriguing! I've never heard of putting an egg on top -- it sounds so unusual but I'll take your word on it that it tastes amazing! :)

  9. Oh Valerie- I love this - thank you for sharing your heart and what God spoke to you- I need to let that sink into my heart- I am so prone to wanting more and what others have and not accepting my own plate! So hard for me sometimes-I want what they have on their plate!! ( even when we eat out - I find myself eyeing other plates wondering if I made a good choice! ) I love hearing about your day and the tour- That sounds like so much fun! Thank you for sharing it and what the Lord is speaking to you- He speaks to me through you so often- Thank you! xoxo

    1. Hi Susie,
      I'm laughing at you looking at others' plates to see if their choices would have been better -- me too! Avoiding comparison is a tough thing to do and so easy to succumb to the idea that what we have or offer isn't enough. I haven't figured that one out yet so if you do, I'm all ears on how to meet that challenge! xo

  10. You have made me so hungry, Valerie :), especially with the thought of the chocolate popcorn Devon had. I get caught up in thoughts of the future way too often. Thanks for the reminder to enjoy what's on the plate right in front of me now. So important!

    1. Hi Candace,
      The chocolate popcorn is pretty delicious! I'm with you on how hard it is to not worry about the future and savor the present. Thanks for popping in and reading here!

  11. You are a wonderful aunt, Valerie. I love how you intentionally included Devon even though you know she is a finicky eater. What a fun way to encourage her to try new foods! I love those words God impressed on your heart: "There’s still plenty of time, but I don’t want you to miss this." I can imagine Him saying that to me right now too ...

  12. Valerie. I so enjoyed reading this. I always do
    My oldest is almost nine and lately I have seen just how much she has grown. Right up under us
    This foodie tour looks so fun. What a treat to take your neice on. Truly.
    You are a wonderful aunt.
    I'm sorry about all of this carrot dangling. Hope deferred does make our hearts sick. Thankful for your spirit of positivity anyways Valerie 💜


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