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2 Weeks of 2024: I've Been Thinking

Happy New Year, everyone!

Can you believe we're already through the first 13 days of 2024? I haven't blogged in the past few weeks, but that doesn't mean I've been idle or that God hasn't been showing me things and shaping my direction for this year. Just the opposite is true. I've been thinking and listening A LOT.

Over and over in my praying and meditating, two words/phrases have risen to the top. "Cease striving (or be still)" and "people."

In my first 73 years of life, I've done way too much striving. I'm a card-carrying people-pleaser and rule follower. I wanted to please my daddy. I wanted my teachers to like me. I am not gifted academically, so I had to work harder for the A's I wanted so badly.

It seemed that my striving kicked into a higher gear when I retired from public school teaching and began my new role as a travel writer. Since 2015, I have written prolifically, resulting in 8 years' worth of blog posts, over 300 published articles, and 3 books (plus one co-written with Steve). I have traveled extensively and often. I've received some heartwarming and very gratifying awards. But now God seems to be putting His hands on my shoulders and saying, "Relax. Find a different pace and maybe some different subjects. Think about what you want your grandchildren and great-grandchildren to know about you. What will mean the most to them years after you're gone: your opinion of a restaurant or what events in your life shaped you into the woman you became?"

Parallel to these thoughts, I've realized what matters most in life are the people God has put in my path. I'm in this family, this neighborhood, this church for a reason, and the friends that I've developed in various stages of my life are still valuable and important. People I am meeting for the first time are likely part of God's purpose, too.

As I mentioned in my last post, the number of funerals I'm attending reminds me more and more of my mortality and the brevity of my life. Plus, the troubling health diagnoses of dear friends and family members keep me aware that each day is a precious gift, and good health should never be taken for granted. At the same time, I've gotten some very specific indications that God wants me to continue writing.

So, at this stage in the new year, here are the conclusions I've drawn for the foreseeable future that will impact my contributions to

  1. We're learned that Grandchild #16 is on the way. (Yes, our daughter Julie is expecting her 11th child). I want much of my time and attention to be given to these wonderful children and their parents.

  2. I will continue to tell you about good restaurants, hotels, and destinations that I find, but I won't be driven to post something every week.

  3. I have decided not to renew my membership in the Society of American Travel Writers. The philosophy of the organization has become increasingly liberal and contrary to my Christian beliefs. Although it was/is a prestigious group, it no longer aligns with who I am or what I want to be.

  4. Posts about why I am who I am, choices (good and bad) that I've made in my life, people who have made a difference, etc. may become more frequent, OR they may be the basis of a future book for my children and grandchildren with the working title of "What I Want You to Know." I keep wishing I'd had more conversations with my grandparents and parents before they died. Perhaps my grandchildren will have the same curiosity about me one day. If they do, I'd love for them to have something in print, written with them in mind.

  5. I've been approached about writing another book for Reedy Press. I haven't decided yet, but if I do it, there will be a lot of fun and interesting research that I can share with all of you.

  6. I cherish the days I have with Steve Pearson. I don't want to go off a lot without him. I want us to be together, whether it's in the same room typing, reading, watching TV, eating, talking, or riding down the road. He's my favorite person.

  7. God has given us this house to use for creating and deepening relationships. I plan to be very deliberate about that this year. One specific way is getting to know our new neighbors. That won't be easy, because everyone tends to stay inside their houses once they have gone back and forth to work. I believe I'm up to the challenge. :)

It's funny how God just brought this to my mind. I have my mother's 1986 calendar book. She had written several upcoming events in it, some appointments, birthdays, etc., yet she had a sudden brain aneurysm on January 25th and died on January 27th. None of the plans she had made took place. All that to remind myself that ANYTHING/EVERYTHING I do this year depends completely on God.

How is God directing you as you begin this year? I'd love to hear about it. Also, if you have any thoughts about what I've shared today, please let me know. God may use you to tweak, change, confirm, or solidify my course.

Proverbs 16:9 -- "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."

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