All right, folks, I admit it. I’ve been avoiding this post. I’ve been hemming-and-hawing over starting it like it’s a scary thesis paper. Because how in the continent of Europe do I sum up that summer’s trip? Those 4 months, that were packed tighter than a can of sardines? More full than a clown car?

SAM_3257I was ready to come home – I had seen so many churches and paintings and sculptures and… old things, they were cramming into my mind and blending together. I was ready to come back and process everything, clear out my mind, get a little uncultured by watching the Simpsons or something… just kidding. I do miss the aura and streets and cafes and money and maps and languages and something-new-everyday from traveling in Europe. But I am also so glad to be home, smelling the autumn rain, hugging my glorious family, and spending time with my amazing friends.

When you have a home to come home to, it becomes a funny timewarp. I came back after a crazy four months of more culture, new friends, lessons, and new places than ever before in my life. Yet my bedroom still holds the same posters, the same books, and the same dust I hadn’t shooed away – with company. My computer has the same wallpapers I picked out four months ago, the packing list for Europe I created. It feels like a movie where myself from four months ago and my current ‘experienced European traveler’ self are being overlaid in one scene.

I felt that even more when I cracked open my journal from the months before I left. At the time I was working two jobs and saving my money, buying the items for travel that I still needed, and seeing friends one last time before flying out. One thing I realized as I read my entries was that the lessons I feel I came back with from my trip weren’t really new, I just re-learned them. They were retraced on my mind and heart.

So what did I bring out of my trip? To quote from my journal…

I am one servant in the Kingdom – no matter how big or small my job, how big or small the visible impact, my obedience to God and rewards in the Kingdom are most important.

I do not have to make 100% right choices, right from the start… God does not have one role for me to play in this life. I may squander some years, but even in that time (especially?) I will learn and grow.

And I re-learned something that I feel is important for… anyone that feels dissatisfied with where they are. The winter before I left, before I even knew I would go to Europe, I felt extremely restless. Reading what I wrote in my journal brought back to mind something I’ve thought of before, even touched on in previous blog entries

Why am I always so restless?

Important note: Travel will not fix my life. It will not fill this hole. It will not satisfy me. Only travel with God. Only life with God. To be on His errand, being His hands and feet, finding Him in every face, every scene and sunset.

Traveling, God has reaffirmed on my heart that it does not matter where I am or what I am doing – He can and will use me. The most important thing is my relationship with Him. The most important thing is my relationship with Him. To know God, and to make Him known. To love God, and to love others. And might I add, to know and love myself – because that is what a journey with God includes.

SAM_0687While we’re chugging through this blog post, please join me in reaching out your right hand and taking hold of that pole passing us on our right. Let’s hold on and let momentum swing us, oh, about 37 degrees that way. Because I want to make a switch before I sign off.

I want to say thank you.

Where to start?

Thank you to my aunts, to my grandparents, who supported me and cheered for me.

Thank you to those at church who prayed and followed my journey, feeling the ups and downs with me.

Thank you to my friends who understood and welcomed me back heartily.

Thank you to those who have been following my blog, and for some reason caring about this young woman making a summer trip.

Thank you to my Denmark family for feeding me strawberries and fresh cream, letting me become stronger, for showing me a different life.

Thank you to my German family… for letting me become a part of your family. For your open hearts and open hands.

Thank you to my friend and travel partner for 3 months – for putting up with my need to hold the map, for bringing me water and chicken noodle soup when I was sick, for helping me to see the places we visited with excitement and wonder.

Thank you to all of the people that welcomed us into their homes: in Germany, in Austria, in Italy, in Paris, in England, in Ireland. You gave us food, beds, but so so much more than just that. You gave us acceptance, help, smiles, and love. You made our trip possible, and wonderful.

Thank you to my family, for letting me go, and receiving me back.

Honestly, thank you one and all. I am always blown away by the love I receive in my life.

Thank you God, that You always provided a bed every single night, and food, and someone there to help. Ebenezer – “thus far the Lord has helped.”

So, what’s next?