There’s a nervous energy that accompanies me when I go on vacation. Does that happen to you too? I dream about a trip for months. I buy the travel books, plot my great adventure with Google maps, I read reviews and research with gusto. Finally, with baited breath, I set off with my family for a life changing experience. No pressure!
Once the vacation begins, it usually takes a day or two before we can truly relax. In my experience, there’s almost always push back when you search for peace. The resistance is real, the unfamiliar routine causes an underlying tension that translates into sharp conversations in the car. Disagreements about where we want to eat, and a general misalignment about what everyone wants erases the relaxation factor (Don’t they know I’m an EXPERT?! I’ve done the research. I have a PLAN).
And then like clockwork a sudden shift takes place. The Airbnb we rent starts to feel like home. We know where to go for groceries and fun. We each, one by one, start breathing a little deeper and letting go of unrealistic expectations.
I usually have a bucket list of things I want when we go away. For Hawaii, it was to see a whale. For Paris, to see the Eiffel Tower shimmer at night. But for our latest trip to Maine, it was to hear the elusive call of a loon.
I grew up in the “On Golden Pond” era. Watching that camp movie and hearing a loon through the screen sealed the deal. I needed a “On Golden Pond” moment. I needed to hear that desperate cry. So, I prayed about it, “Lord, I’d love to hear a loon. I’m pretty sure they live there. Can you make that happen?” I’m a firm believer in being specific with your prayer life. I view God as my Heavenly Daddy and I take quite literally the verse that says He gives us the desires of our hearts if we ask.
It happened almost by accident. I was alone, camera in hand. I wanted to capture the exterior of our cabin at night, so I went out on the big wrap around deck. The only sound was the waves gently lapping the rocks. The moon shimmered through the pine trees. I was mesmerized by the deep blue glow that lit up the night sky and then all of a sudden, I heard it. The loon! It was in the distance and at first, I wasn’t sure if I heard right. But there it was again!! Tears pricked my eyes. I was experiencing a firsthand “love hug” from heaven (That’s what I call it when God sees my heart and answers a prayer request).
Amazing how something as simple as a bird’s call can awaken your soul to the mysteries of God. When I have that sweet “father-daughter” moment of an answered prayer… my faith deepens. My love expounds. It’s been a life-time of little embraces. Small dreams and wishes realized. I’ll never take for granted the gifts He gives, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Each one has taught me to be present and to see Him in the simple ordinary things. It’s changed me.
Chasing peace is worth the pursuit. It’s worth the discomfort of the unfamiliar. It’s worth the work of removing yourself from your daily grind and noticing the gifts that surround you. Even if it’s taking a quick minute to watch a sunset. Stepping outside with a coffee cup in hand to listen to the birds. Seeing (really seeing) the wind and how it whips the trees around us. We’re not alone.
A vacation is a beautiful chance to pause and purposely appreciate, but it can be done every single day as well. First, ask Him and then let Him embrace you with those little hugs. The peace that passes all understanding will leave you in awe.
Becky Strahle is the author and artist behind the new devotional Seeing God in the Sweet Ordinary. These encouraging words and images from Becky help women recognize God’s presence in the ups and downs of their daily lives. Becky shares the lessons she’s learned that have led to greater faith and trust in God.