Sunday, April 13, 2014


I've often said, "If I had money and I didn't have a church, I'd travel the world."

Meeting the orphans in India

I love to travel.  I love the anticipation of the trip, buying new things for the trip, packing (I especially love the challenge of carry-on travel!), plane trips with a really good project to work on (though I can't say it's too much fun when I throw up, which has happened more times than I care to remember!), arriving to the sights and sounds and smells of my destination, laying my tired body down on a strange bed in a strange room and thinking, "I'm in _____! before falling asleep, waking up to sunshine and strange bird calls and thinking, "I'm in ____!" before jumping up to look out the window in daylight, my first meal, my first day out exploring, meeting interesting people, eating sometimes delicious and sometimes curious food, learning a little bit of the language, riding in funny modes of transportation, sweating, freezing or getting drenched and actually laughing about it, shopping for cool stuff, taking really good pictures, making really good Instagrams, learning new recipes and buying the exotic ingredients from the source, writing all about my experiences, and flying home full in every way.

This week I stumbled across a travel blog I had never heard of before.  I don't follow blogs and usually only go on them through a Google search if I'm looking up a recipe or searching a random word or phrase that links me to one.  But on my Facebook page I noticed a "Suggested Post" on Bosnia.  The picture was what immediately caught my attention, then the location, then the blog.  I usually ignore suggested posts and scroll past them, but I wanted to look at the pictures to see if I had traveled to any of the featured spots, so I clicked on it.  It was a short piece, but I was reminded of a place I had once visited, and I enjoyed reminiscing about it for a little while.  And that was that.

But two days later a link to the same blog came up on my page again, now because I had actually visited the site.  This time the featured location was Slovenia, a country just north of Bosnia and one I had never been to.  Again, it was the photographs that captured my attention...stunning blue water rushing through rugged mountains and deep forests, stunning blue lakes surrounded by quaint old-world houses, a castle on a hill, red tile roofs, cobbled streets, gorgeous buildings, flowers....I was smitten.

Then I did something I'd never done before...I explored the whole blog site.  I read the blogger's biography, looked at tons of her pictures, clicked on her links and lusted...yes, lusted...after her job.

Wanderlust.  It is a strong desire or impulse to wander or travel or explore the world.  Wikipedia says the term originates from the German words wandern (to hike) and lust (desire).

I have a very strong desire to explore the world.  I love to travel.  I've always loved it.  I still have a tiny spiral notebook that I wrote in every day of a trip I took across the United States when I was young.  I wrote about the sites I saw, the weather, family dynamics, truck stop food, the smell of diesel, cheap motel rooms that we squeezed six people into, and how I felt emotionally on both departing and arriving.  I was a travel blogger before the term even existed!!

But a trip across the U.S. wasn't enough for me.  I begged my mom to let me be an exchange student.  She said no, and my passionate pleading was snuffed out by the wet blanket of her fear.  But she did allow me to go on an eight-day short-term mission trip to Mexico when I was 16.  That did nothing to assuage my appetite.  In fact, it whetted it!  But there was no more travel for me for many years.

The seasons of life swirled by like the blossoms, leaves and snow that come and go with the wind.  I married, had four children, a job and a very settled routine.  I watched with bitter envy as my husband traveled---without me---to Mexico and India and London year after year.  The first trip he went on was to Mexico, and I was pregnant with our first baby.  I was devastated about being left at home, not because I was afraid of being alone but because I was upset that I couldn't go.  I remember flopping facedown on my bed to cry bitter tears of jealousy and realizing I couldn't even flop properly because I was pregnant (I attribute this childish outburst to pregnancy hormones and youth, because I've never done that again!).  Then there were the bigger trips husband away three weeks in India and I at home in the dead of winter with a baby, a toddler, a preschooler and a first-grader.  It snowed day after day after day while he was away, and I shoveled the sidewalks every night after putting the little ones to bed only to wake in the morning and find the walks covered again.  I was not comforted in any way by the red scarf and blue bag my husband brought me back from Harrod's in London nor the gold bracelets from India.  What good were souvenirs from a country you had never seen?

And then my husband went to Hawaii without me on his way to the Philippines.

That was the living end.  What husband goes to Hawaii without his wife?  He was travelling with two other men and the only words I could muster when he told me where he was going were, "Well, enjoy sleeping with So-and-So! as I turned my back and went back to cleaning up the kitchen.

But one day it happened.  I got a phone call (really!).  I was asked to join a team from Samaritan's Purse to take 50 teenagers to Costa Rica.  I would be the dance and drama coordinator.  My kids were older, all in school, able to dress themselves and make their own lunches.  My husband...well, he would just have to learn to be self-sufficient for two weeks!  In fact, it would be good for him!  So off I went, all expenses paid, and journaled the whole trip in another spiral binder.

That trip led to another in Belize and then an invitation to Ecuador.  And then, miracle of miracles, my husband and I started traveling together, and some of those trips included our kids too!  Mexico, Belize, Brazil, Singapore, India, Bosnia, Croatia and Cuba.  I transitioned from journaling to blogging and found such total bliss seeing the sights and then capturing my experiences by photos and through words.

When I returned from Cuba just a little over a month ago, I was a little disconcerted to discover that my trip didn't satisfy me but instead made me want to go somewhere else---and sooner rather than later.  It's the same feeling you get when you've had a week of rain followed by a glorious day of sun and then the dreary disappointment of the next day returning to rain again when you know very well you should be thankful for a day's reprieve.

It was in this state of mind that I stumbled across the travel blog and began reading myself into a vicarious world where I was the travel blogger, earning a living exploring the world and telling others all about it.  Could there be a better job?  I didn't think so.  I talked about it for four days straight, daydreamed about it, and put myself to sleep at night fantasizing about it.

And then this morning as I was on my way to church, having just finished telling yet two more people about my dream blog-job, I suddenly thought, "But what will she do with her life?"  "In whose life will she make a difference?"  "Will anyone be sorry to see her leave their country because her presence and work there changed the inhabitants?"  "How long can beautiful scenery, a good cup of coffee, a little art and a lot of history satisfy her spirit?"

I knew then my dream job was just that...a daydream, a fantasy, an idle muse.  I value this world for much more than its good looks and personality.  I value it for its soul.  If I can't touch people with the love of God, can't see them change, grow and embrace who they are in Christ, then what is the purpose of my passport?  I believe God placed the desire in my heart to explore the world so I could better love the world.  I am thankful for every country God has granted me access to.  I am grateful for the opportunity to see His amazing creation and admire the cultural diversity.  But most of all, I am humbled by the mission to carry His love to those who have never known it or those who want to know it better.  And I am overjoyed to think that I can love and be loved by those people too.

So my wanderlust I am now calling "wanderlove."  It is a strong desire or compulsion to wander or travel or explore the world for the purpose of sharing the love of God with others and cultivating a love for His people within my heart.

Now that is something to blog about!

The harbor in Dubrovnik, Croatia

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