Two weeks ago the hubby and I celebrated our 9 year anniversary in the beauty of Northern California. I shared previously that we were really looking forward to our annual getaway and having not only the opportunity to have quality alone time with each other, but also the opportunity to abide, rest, unplug, and get away from the demands and stressors of ‘real’ life, if even for a little bit.
The personal “goals” I had for vacation were this:
- Commune and hear from God.
- Bond and connect on all levels with Kenny.
- See new sights and be more in awe of God through this big, beautiful world He created, and
- Get back to what is most important.
I can honestly say that all of these goals were achieved throughout the course of our week as we traveled from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to Yosemite and back to the city, exploring and taking in each distinct area. The unique beauty of each place we visited in tandem with the sunshine, blue sky, fresh air, and activities were medicine for the soul, and inspired us on many levels.
Some takeaways for me from this time away:
- God really spoke to my heart about “freedom” which has been the entire theme of my days in 2016. He reminded me that freedom means giving it ALL over to Him; not just the things I want changed and not just the ‘bad’ or difficult things, but ALL things, good and happy, etc. He reminded me that I need to let go of my expectations, plans, and dreams and let Him be the one to direct those things in my life. He reminded me that He takes the burdens off of my shoulders and I don’t have to do and be it all; that there’s no reason to operate from a place of anxiety, doing, and going, when I am in real, authentic relationship with Him.
- It does my soul some serious good to step away from the phone and/or turn it off completely. In fact, I rarely use my phone as an actual phone, and it’s really my camera, email, and social media connection. And the reality is that these things can be very distracting from what is ‘real life.’ It’s more important for me to be present. And when I do this, time expands and my focus is more centered on what is most important.
- I am truly an outdoors, live-it-up in the wild kind of girl, way more than I am a city girl. I feel so alive and refreshed when I am outside in wide, open spaces, whether it’s for exercise, sight-seeing, or just hanging out. The countryside, the mountains, trees, rivers, and lakes are truly my happy places.
I also felt that God confirmed for me certain rhythms I have developed for my days, specifically:
- Getting at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. (I am a girl who needs her rest and a peaceful night of sleep to function well during the day.)
- Beginning every day with Jesus with coffee, His Word, praise and prayer. (It makes a world of difference in my day when I spend this time with Him.)
- Exercise 5-6 days per week. (My therapy.)
- Work / life balance. (Keeping work in its rightful place and making room for our people and other things that need tending to at home, up north, etc.)
- Taking at least a half-hour for self-care before bed. (Reading, creativity, watching a show, for example.)
- Using essential oils throughout my day. (Diffusing or applying topically.)
In addition to this, I was reminded of my purpose in Him: To love God and point others to Him.
And how to do this: Live wild and free as His daughter, abiding in and accepting the unique story He is writing for my life, and not trying to live, or coveting, the story He is writing for others.
Some things I want to cultivate moving forward from this time away:
- A steady heart that abides, looks to, trusts in, and worships Jesus in ALL things.
- A healthy, thriving marriage.
- Opportunities to shine light, be an encouragement, and invest in the lives of others.
- Lasting relationships with family and friends.
I realize that this post has been less about the specifics of our time in California and more about the dreams, goals, purposes, and plans God spoke to me while there, but friends, hearing these things and receiving confirmation of the path I’m already walking with Him was healing balm to my heart. I believe I had to have this time away and the change of scenery in order to let Him be louder than all the things swarming my mind and clamoring for my attention. And my prayer moving forward is that He would ALWAYS be louder than those other things.
It was also a much needed time for the hubby and I to draw away together, just the two of us, and get back to the basics. I’ve been so blessed and encouraged by our commitment to putting aside this one week out of every year to travel and spend time together – it’s been a marriage-strengthener for sure – and I look forward to future opportunities to do this with one another!
A few fun / random things to add before I close …
- Safeway Grocery Stores are the BOMB! (We loved them so much, we signed up for a Safeway rewards card, which we used at the stores and gas stations.) Clean, organized, fresh produce and baked goods, and STARBUCKS. Sold.
- I was craving iced tea, which I haven’t drank in YEARS, while we were out there (probably because I was pounding so much water from the heat and my body was wanting something a little sweeter as a treat, and I don’t drink soda), so I tried the Shaken Berry Sangria Iced Tea at Starbucks and woah! Very good. Perfect drink for summer!
- Amanda Cook’s Pieces was stuck in my head the entire time we were gone, especially when we were hiking. Such a beautiful reminder of God’s love for us and the love we are invited into as His children.
- Instagram is my most favorite app. EVER.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
COME TO ME. GET AWAY WITH ME.
And you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
WALK WITH ME AND WORK WITH ME – WATCH HOW I DO IT.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
KEEP COMPANY WITH ME.
You’ll learn to live FREELY and LIGHTLY.
– Matthew 11:28 – 30 (MSG) –
His love wrecks my heart for the better. So much better.
– Grace Thornton, I Don’t Wait Anymore –