more than just a trip

Tomorrow we leave for Europe. I can hardly believe it. For almost as long as I have dreamt of getting married, I have dreamt of traveling to Europe — specifically Italy as I’ve learned more about my Italian heritage.

In the year 1635 the first Italian to come to the “New World” was my great, great, who-knows-how-many-greats grandfather, Pietro Cesare Alberti.

When I was in my late twenties, my grandparents researched and compiled this heritage into a booklet as a gift to the members of our family. Only I didn’t get one… because I wasn’t married. My cousin who is younger than me even got one.

Being single for so many years longer than I would have liked already had me feeling “left out” in the world in so many ways, and now I was feeling left out even within my own family for it. {I do not think my grandfather intentionally meant to hurt me; I simply think he had limited resources for the books. But still, it hurt.}

When I was in seventh grade there was a school trip to Europe. You had to be invited as a result of good grades. I was perplexed as to why I had not been invited. After all on more than one occasion my mom had told me to “stop studying so much.”

It wasn’t until a few years ago I learned I had been invited but that my mom had thrown the invitation letter away in fear that I’d be kidnapped on the trip! {In her defense, I had been the victim of an attempted kidnapping when I was a baby and as a twelve-year-old I only weighed “70 pounds soaking wet” as she recalls}. Still! It hurt! I had wanted to go so badly!

Nevertheless I held onto hope that one day when I was married, when I finally had someone with whom to travel, we would take a long-awaited trip to Europe. We would adventure through Italy and stand before the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

And well, that day has finally come.

My long-awaited husband and I are finally taking this long-awaited trip.

And so in many ways, this feels like so much more than just a trip.
It feels like a pilgrimage back to my roots.
It feels like a testament to waiting.
It feels like the beautiful manifestation of God’s goodness.

For so many years I doubted just that — God’s goodness. On the long road of singleness I wrestled with lies that He was “holding out on me.” My thoughts were all too often littered with “Why me?” and “Why not me?”

And yet here I am eating my words… or rather eating my fish and egg…


a good gift

In Luke 11:11-12 Jesus asks His disciples, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” He goes on to say in verse 13, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Notice there’s an exclamation point at the end of that sentence, not a question mark. There is a certainty in Jesus’ knowledge of His Father’s goodness. Of His longing to give His children good gifts.

For all my life I’ve thought of this passage as a lesson in simply that, though — that God longs to give His children good gifts. I could stop at that and end this blog post by saying that God longs to give us good gifts, and I hope that this story of mine is an example of it for you.

And yet, that’s not exactly what Jesus is saying. He is saying that our Father longs to give us one very specific gift — that of the Holy Spirit.

In the last ten weeks I’ve seen just how good this specific gift truly is. And just how good the Giver of this gift really is.

On my journey of seeking healing from chronic pain and stomach issues I’ve battled for 14 years and 5 years respectively, I reached a breaking point on February 28 in which I cried out to God the very words of the verses that just so happen to come just before this Scripture.

I quoted His own words. “Lord, you say, ‘Ask and it will be given; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.'” I literally knocked on the wall as I said it. I was desperate. And He was faithful.

In the minutes, days, and weeks that followed I can honestly say that I received the good gift of the Holy Spirit in my life, like I never had before. It was truly remarkable the ways in which I saw God virtually step down to walk with me, to lead me by my right hand down His path, His way to knowledge, to Truth, and toward healing.

It was not only a good gift, but the greatest gift I have ever received apart from my salvation through His Son.
Better than a trip to Europe.
Better than a husband.
Better than anything this world could ever have to offer.

And yet, He gifts me, too, with a world that awaits to discovery, that reflects His nature, that reveals His creativity.


all these things

This story — this part of my story — is just one minuscule way in which God reveals that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever: a good, good Father who longs to give His children the good, good gift of the Holy Spirit.

And that He doesn’t stop there. He adds “all these things” when we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness {Matthew 6:33}.

When I reached that breaking point, I told God I was so done, so at the end of myself, so tired with the  results from the way I had been living my life, that I was ready to literally lay it all down, surrender it all up to Him. I was ready to lose my life… and oh, did I find such greater life because of it — one led by the Holy Spirit.

What lay ahead of me on the road past complete surrender was a pathway of learning how to better live in line with seeking God’s Kingdom and righteousness above all.
Above my desire to produce.
Above my desire to prove.
Above my desire to earn — love, approval, worth, value, significance.

And when I had reached my “breaking point” on the search for love, when I finally surrendered my search for a husband fully and completely up to God, vowing to do it His way or no way at all — fully prepared to be single until the day I died should I not meet someone who was wholeheartedly going to seek God’s will, way, and design on the journey of dating and marriage and life — He, in His timing, did add this lovely gift of a godly husband unto me.

When we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, He is faithful to add “all these things.”

“All these things” doesn’t always look like we may want it to. I would have loved to have been married nearly a decade before I was. I would have loved to have avoided the crippling journey of chronic pain.

And yet…

And yet God is good. And yet He is still on the throne. And yet He redeems all.
All trails.
All waiting.
All pain.

I can honestly say that while singleness and chronic pain have been my two greatest trails — that because they have now become my greatest ministry, I wouldn’t trade them for this world — for anything that awaits discovery.

Because I have seen God’s nature reflected in it all. I have seen His creativity revealed through the intricate pages of the story He is writing of my life — more intricate, intertwined, and creative… and good… than I could have ever penned, dreamt, or conjured up in my mind.

And I have seen the Truth of His Scriptures revealed — that when I have sought first God’s Kingdom and righteousness, He has added so many things. So many good, precious, and priceless things.

And so as I step onto this plane tomorrow — even as I type these words now, my eyes are filled with tears at the thought — I will do so with an overwhelming sense of the goodness, faithfulness, and generosity of this loving and faithful God that I love and serve and seek.
This God who comes after me when I have strayed.
This God who runs into the darkness and danger to rescue me from where I have foolishly entered.
This God who leaves the ninety-nine to come after the one.

I don’t need this trip. I only need Him.
And yet, He has added it unto me, to my story.

And so, “I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the One who gave it all” as we lift off, away from our busy lives here in Los Angeles, and my heavy heart of gratitude will keep me grounded in just that — in gratitude — for each minute of the trip.
No matter if it rains {which it’s supposed to!}
No matter if something goes wrong {which I’m sure it will!}
No matter what.

I don’t need this trip. But oh what a gift it is that has been added.

What good gifts has He added to your life, your story, your journey?

The bottle of wine we “happened” to order on our second anniversary just a couple of weeks ago… Pietro Cesare Alberti!

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