I just returned home from the trip of a lifetime! It all began a little over a year ago when my son, Erik, announced his engagement to Ali and shared their plans for a destination wedding in Corfu, Greece. We were excited for them and planned accordingly, thinking it would be a wonderful opportunity to travel and see some of the sights we have dreamt of seeing in person.
We would fly to London then on to Corfu, Greece for the wedding, then to Salzberg, Austria and then back to the UK to connect to our flight to home sweet home. Little did I know the incredible lessons I would learn. I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged!
Lesson One: What to Bring
The first lesson came while preparing and packing for our adventure. One thing to know about me is that I am not an avid traveler—the thought of crossing overseas for a wedding honestly filled me with tremendous anxiety. Erik and Ali are expert planners and had thought of every detail for the wedding, so thankfully, I left that in their hands. I was consumed with my own packing and planning! I love fashion and I wanted to bring my favorite clothes and anything else I might possibly have needed.
As our departure date approached, I got more and more anxious thinking about what to bring and especially wondered how it would all fit into one suitcase. I wanted no checked bags….I’ve heard too many stories about lost luggage in London!
I precisely planned and prepared each perfect outfit for the events leading up to the wedding and for the big day itself. I practiced packing for a week with each article of clothing neatly piled upon my bed. I strategically organized my bag and went back and forth like a yo-yo on what to bring. Questions ran through my mind: How many pairs of shoes, sundresses, shorts and more importantly, how was I going to pack the beautiful dress I planned to wear for the wedding? Those were just a few of the many thoughts that raced through my mind.
Then a truth came clearly into my mind, bringing a calm to my fashion frenzy. I found my compulsive thinking was soothed by a Bible verse that spoke to my heart loud and clear about all those clothes: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
This was a needed truth and verse to focus on to calm my nerves but to also to equip me for the attitude helpful for traveling in close quarters with my husband! 😉 His Word provided the attitudes I wanted to make sure to pack and be ready to wear!
Ron and I at Erik and Ali’s wedding
Lesson Two: Keep Calm and Carry On
My next lesson happened in London. As I disembarked the plane I was greeted with a sign that read, “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.” Wow!
I love the definition of the word “calm;” it means at peace from a raging storm.
My heart and mind were tossing and turning with the waves of worry and all the “what ifs” of traveling! Instead of wondering and worrying, I was reminded of my constant companion, Jesus Christ, the expert on calm and the peace He promises to bring wherever I am. A quietness came over me instantly as I chose to focus on the Lord and not my fears. Jesus is my calm and therefore I can “carry on” as He carries me.
Lesson Three: God’s Unfailing Love
Our stay in Salzberg added to my list of traveling lessons and was the cherry on top of this special trip! One of my heart’s desires has been to go to Salzberg and experience the Sound of Music film tour which takes place where the movie was filmed over fifty years ago.
The Sound of Music is one of our family favorites and has an extra special place in our hearts. Our daughter Karina was cast in the important role of Leisel in the school musical in 8th grade shortly before her cancer diagnosis. Watching this beloved movie together in the hospital was our last treasured family memory before Karina passed away in 2010. I dreamt I would feel Karina’s presence come alive on the hills of Austria and I was certain there would be a glad surprise for Ron and me on this popular tour.
Karina as the role Liesl in the 8th grade Sound of Music Musical
Sound of Music Movie tour bus in Salzburg, Austria
Cathedral where Maria and Captain von Tropp were married
My husband and I boarded a bus and embarked on our adventure excited to see the sites. As we climbed the mountain road out of the city, the dark gray clouds obscured any view of the landscape and we couldn’t see a thing. Our guide kept remarking how sorry he was that the weather wasn’t cooperating. As we approached the little town where they filmed the infamous wedding of Maria and Captain von Trapp it began to pour buckets! I sat in the bus and had a brief conversation with the Lord: “Really? Rain this hard on the one day we scheduled the tour?!!! Unbelievable.”
Our guide encouraged us to brave the rain and make our way to the cathedral to take in the sights of this historic location. As we dodged the pounding droplets with a tiny umbrella, I fought back tears. But to our amazement, the Lord had a plan all along.
Glorious rainbow on the Sound of Music tour!!
Ron and I were greeted with the most glorious rainbow that glistened through the gray skies! Teary-eyed, we both knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the presence of the Lord and Karina were near and the promise of His purpose and peace were true. This beautiful rainbow permeated our grief with hope and light — a true lesson in God’s unfailing love that we will hold onto forever. My son’s destination wedding proved to be an over-the-top trip of amazing celebration and encouraging life lessons.
“If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:9-10