What if we could enjoy the journey?

“I’m going to marry someone who will stop and play in the snow,” our pre-teen daughter announced from the back seat years ago as we were crossing winter-white mountains on our way to a family Christmas. But the objective of her father was to reach our destination safely and in good time. (Particularly in good time.)

What if the goal of an extended drive could also be about making memories? About stretching our legs and throwing snowballs at each other, even if for only 10 minutes. Or stopping for ice cream cones? What’s the worst that could happen? We’d reach our destination 10-15 minutes later.

I think this principle applies to life, as well as the long miles. For example, my first husband and I were frugal and careful with our finances. Which is a good thing. 

But we only dated each other on Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and birthdays. And we rarely spent money on the un-necessities of life—like an Alaskan cruise. (We had saved to go on a cruise for our 25th anniversary, and almost cancelled because we needed a new computer at the time.) This is not a good thing.

And then cancer showed up and said, “Maybe you ought to make some epic memories while you still have life.” And I suspect cancer dictated this same message to Dan, my now-husband who lost his first wife to cancer.

Why does it have to take something like cancer to slow us down enough to enjoy the journey?

Right after we were married, Dan and I made a whirlwind trip to visit family in Northern California before heading up the Oregon coast on a loop back home.

Along the way, we wandered through the redwoods (and maybe hugged a tree or two because after all, we’re Oregonians).

Tree-hugging Oregonian

We spontaneously purchased a kite and attempted to launch it on a windless Pacific Northwest beach, running and laughing because the kite refused to soar.

Delicious seafood. A room overlooking the ocean. A surprise stop on the way home to disrupt the grandkids’ online school day (because this is what grandparents get to do).

When you think about it, long road trips sliced into leg-stretching, ice-cream-licking, kite-flying, or snowball-throwing escapades makes the journey so much more enjoyable.

Some expanses of life’s journey are sweet. And some are unbearably heart-rending. But what if we make memories, and stretch our legs, and find the perfect kite, and feel the sand on our bare feet? Would that bring a bit more joy as we allow God to shape us through the hard places? 

Two thoughts:

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

The original Hebrew for “still” is raphah, and can be translated, “sink down, relax, let go, cease striving.” Much of Psalm 46 was written in war language and was likely penned during a time of conflict.

This verse isn’t so much about being quiet as it is about laying down one’s weapons, letting go of trying to control, and resting in our vast God, even if we don’t understand why this hard place. Even if we can’t see how the story ends. Even if we’re feeling forgotten.

Be still. Let go. Persevere under trial. Cease striving to have things go our way. Would this be the equivalent to taking the scenic route and enjoying moments along this challenging road?

I’m thinking Yes.

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9 Comments

  1. Cheryl White

    I love this! And just out of curiosity.. does Josh stop to throw snowballs on a road trip? 🙂 I have a wonderful crew of widows at the church that meet weekly for Bible study and do all kinds of fun stuff in between. It’s great looking forward to sitting with them on the 2nd pew at church every Sunday. Life looks a lot different now but, I may live alone as a widow but I’m so glad I have a wonderful group of ladies to do life with.

    • How wonderful to have like-minded travelers on your widow journey, Cheryl. Isn’t life, with all its side roads, so much better when we choose to do it with someone else?

      (Good question about Josh. I’m not sure, but I’ll have to find out!)

  2. Peter Howe

    Hi Marlys,
    If I hadn’t come to know your wonderful Oregon when I set off cycling across USA & coming back to visit & stay with special friends, over the years, I wouldn’t be able to respond to your so uplifting message. May I share with you & your readers. Stopping to throw snowballs… your friend Barbara Winterfeld & late George, decided they would take my Barbara & I SOMEWHERE.. we had no idea, then as we climbed up above the snow belt, nearing our destination, George stopped the car.. we got out into the snow, in trainers, T shirts & shorts & like kids, threw snowballs. Then George pointed for us to go to the near ridge, so we did.. & my Barbara was so emotionally overcome as we looked over the ridge.. we were at Crater Lake.. those moments, memories we could never forget.. Love walked in with us as we stood in awe.. thanks to Barbara & George. Valentine’s Day gifts.. as I was reading our words, the CD playing was Chris Botticelli, the track – My Funny Valentine.. once again love touched me. Alaskan Cruise… we too experienced a holiday of a life time.. Canadian Rockies & Alaskan Cruise… IT WAS A FREE holiday… my Barbara responded to a Saga magazine article, asking folk to nominate ‘Their most active, adventurous over50 year old’. Unbeknown to me.. she nominated me… and I was duly considered & was awarded the prize.. so once again… Love came calling. What Cancer can do to us…. You will recall, I was given 25% chance of survival following kidney cancer.. & my Barbara suffered nerve damage following breast cancer & thank our good Lord, we are still here.. I know I took on the London Marathon.. then a few 1,000 mile cycle challenges, as fund raisers.. then the Across USA cycle challenge.. ‘was I trying to pack as much as I could in while I had time.. only God knows, but each was life changing.. & I would never have known Oregon… God’s Love moves in mysterious ways. Your scripture passages.. so poignant.. perseverance, whatever happens.. Love is the answer. Your Oregon coast trips with Dan.. yes we recall the many magical places.. we fell in love with Cannon Beach.. we had stayed in a beach cabin which overlooks Haystack rock, courtesy of Steve & Linda Seaton.. who responded to my appeal for hospitality via the Christian Fraternity of International Police services.. by the way Steve had been shot 3 times while on traffic patrol in Portland.. & lives to tell the tale… Love always endures. Tree hugging… yes in the Muir forest.. a favourite CD of mine is The Muir Forest Suite by George Dukes.. played it after I read your message… Love never fails. Clam Chowder… had NEVER tried it before being taken to friends favourite Chowder house in Lincoln City.. then to the Lighthouse for a pint of Hammerhead micro beer… I now LOVE clam chowder. I know I have gone on BUT, I just did WANT to share, because you have… Stirred the LOVE in our hearts, thank you so very much. Finally, the fund raising as a speaker/singer song writer continues to be a blessing for me.. donation still come in to this day.. it wasn’t something I knew I would do… BUT God surely did, for He is good always, Always, God is good. Our Love to you all, thanks Marlys & Dan. Barbara & Peter Howe B.E.M.

    • What adventures you’ve had, Peter! A free trip to the Canadian Rockies including an Alaskan cruise … wow! Thank you for sharing your favorite things about the Oregon coast, a place that is dear to our hearts. Love and blessings to you and Barbara.

      • Peter

        Thanks Marlys.. Bx is still in a care home, but I will tell her. Oh, and Barbara Winterfeld has been in touch.. friends for ever. God Bless, Bx P

  3. Allison

    A leg-stretching, ice-cream-licking, kite-flying, or snowball-throwing journey, oh YES. To live life unencumbered by a busy schedule, the need to conform to other’s expectations, or by our own fears and anxiety is a sweet life. A God directed life. Thank you for the reminder.

  4. sally slick

    Yes!!!!

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