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New Adventures Ahead, No Instructions Included…

On our wedding day I gave my husband a card that said, “New Adventures Ahead … No Instructions Included.”  We were facing uncharted waters together, jumping in to blending children, families and life histories together.  Our wedding was magical!  It was beautiful, fun, meaningful–everything you would want it to be.  The next day as we boarded the plane for our honeymoon we were full of deep joy.  Our new adventure had begun!

With wide grins we reached the travel counter for our cruise.  Little did we know the plans we had carefully crafted together were about to be yanked forcefully out of our hands.

“May I see your passports please?” the kind woman at the counter inquired.

Dutifully David handed over our documents.  We could see our ship floating majestically right in front of us, glistening in the Miami sunshine.  Distracted and excited, it took us a moment to notice the woman had stopped checking us in and was waving a supervisor over.  To my horror, the passport I had asked a friend to pack for me was an old expired one that was no longer valid.  We would not be permitted to board.

In one moment, all of our special plans evaporated before our very eyes.  Exploring the ship and grabbing lunch on the deck, gone.  Breaking open the chilled champagne and Pellegrino that waited for us in our room, gone.  Toasting our new marriage and sailing off into the sunset, gone.  Overwhelmed with anger, frustration and self-loathing, my head dropped into my hands and I started sobbing.  My honeymoon was ruined.

You know you’ve married the right guy when in the midst of the disappointment a gentle arm reaches around your shoulder, pulls you in close and tells you it’s going to be alright.  Before I knew it, he was on the phone moving mountains, changing arrangements, and shifting plans.  Within an hour my passport was being shipped (God love my parents!) and we were flying to another port the next day to meet our ship.  Never once did he try to make me feel bad.  He was reassuring, reminding me it was all going to be okay.  My tears begin to subside.

We prayed.  We both got re-centered.  Then David recalled that card I had just given him not even 24 hours earlier, the words taken on newer meaning.  “This is our first adventure together as a married couple, honey.  And if this is the worst that ever happens to us in our married life, we have nothing to complain about.”  He was right.  No one was dead.  Nothing was destroyed.  We still had each other, and it was still our honeymoon.

He continued, “Our focus shouldn’t be on a trip.  It’s just a trip.  Our focus should be right here,” he said, waving his arm gently between the two of us.  “And this…this is all good.  We don’t need a trip together to experience joy.  A trip is just one moment in time, and life is full of many, many moments.  This moment with you is all that matters.”

He pulled me in and held me close.  My shoulders began to relax; the stress started to melt away like a light snow on a sunny day.  Joy crept its way back into my spirit as I realized yet again this guy by my side is exactly the kind of person I want to be able to continue my life’s journey with. God was able to snatch away the victory from the jaws of defeat.

It’s crazy how hard life can come at us sometimes.  When I think of all I’ve experienced in my life—loss of loved ones, tragedies, financial challenges, broken bones and broken hearts—those are not the moments that jump out at me.  Instead, it is the presence of God’s steadying influence.  Whether it’s through prayer, the Bible, other people or worship, God is there holding me close.  And when I’m ready, he reminds me of all the joy I have also experienced—the birth of my children, the triumphs and victories, the love and the friendships, the growth and the blessings.  It’s already been a rich life!  It’s my choice what I choose to focus on with the rest of the moments I have.

So if, like me, you hit a rough patch (or two or three), remember: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful people so you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3).   God still has you!

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT: The race we are running is a marathon, not a sprint.  We will hit many obstacles along our path.  But God is bigger than any and every obstacle, even death, and He does give us instructions.  The Bible is packed with wisdom about how to handle our challenges when they come (because they always do!).  Read them to allow your spirit to shift your focus away from the negative and grab a hold of hope.  I’ve included a few of my favorites here for you to click on:

PRAYER: Papa, always you are good even when things go wrong.  I know every good and perfect gift comes from above, and that you promise to use even the challenges we face in life for the good when we trust you.  Thank you that it is never your heart to hurt us, and that Jesus gave his very life to redeem us from those hurts.  You are a good father, and I am so deeply grateful for the joy you set before me even in the midst of the trials.  Thank you, Papa.  Amen.

BARBARA LOWNSBURY is an author, entrepreneur, and single mother of three.  She serves as the Executive Director for The Dented Fender ministry.  Follow Barb and The Dented Fender community on Facebook and Instagram.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?  Buy Barbara’s book by clicking HERE

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