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English Lessons: A Birth Story (and a Giveaway)

Today is the official release day for English Lessons. I found it hard to think of what to write to mark this momentous occasion on my blog, where the origins of this book can be traced to. So I decided to tell the chronological story of how English Lessons was born. Today is its birthday after all. Why not celebrate by marking the significant events that led to its existence?

English Lessons: A Birth Story

September 15, 2008: I moved to Oxford and spontaneously decided to start a blog. I titled it “English Lessons.” Because I was living in England and working on a master’s in English. Clever, right? My fist post was about what happens in England when you say you want “cream” in your coffee. That began a year of blogging about the English, their culture and what I was learning abroad.

September 2009: I moved to Nashville for my first job as an editorial assistant at Thomas Nelson publishers. I forgot about the blog. Real, adult life hit and it took some time to find my footing. Blogging, and writing for that matter, felt impossible.

May 2010: There was a flood in Nashville that inspired me to write about the city and resurrect the blog. That same month, I began writing a series of lessons about what England taught me about the world and culture and myself.

May 22, 2013 at 8:37 pm: I started a new Word Doc. on my computer. I titled it “Nice, Thin and Modest”—a collection of adjectives taken from a Brené Brown Ted Talk I had recently watched about what women feel most pressured to be.

I thought I would write down some thoughts about what being a woman feels like. Instead, I wrote a story about two friends and a park we visited in Oxford.

At the top of the Word Doc. I wrote this: “I am worried that if I try, nothing will come, but a cut always bleeds, and the blood is always red.” Probably subconsciously inspired by this:

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

-Ernest Hemingway

March 1, 2014: I emailed the essay about the park and the two friends and two other essays about Oxford to my dad. He called me right away after reading them, ecstatic I was finally writing.

Other happenings of 2014 and 2015: I wrote, edited, sent out chapters for feedback. Wrote, edited. Spent a few solitary weekends writing and thinking. Wrote a proposal. Sent it out…

July 15, 2015: I texted friends to come over to my place to sit with me while I signed a book deal with WaterBrook Multnomah. We took pictures (below) and were overly dramatic about the whole thing.

December 2015: I started sending off chapters to the people I had written about to get their permission. I almost puked and had really bad heartburn. I discovered my people-pleasing tendency runs deep and needed to be uprooted. Not everybody was a fan. I removed chapters and characters. It was painful, but in the end, the book is exactly what it’s supposed to be.

February 1, 2016: I turned in the first draft of the book. And, unable to think of a better title, my editor and I agreed that English Lessons would work.

April 13, 2016: Had a major freak out about the book, threatened to quit writing forever and cried on the kitchen floor.

April 14, 2016: Got over it. (I could list many many dates that said this same thing—freaked out, thought about quitting forever, got over it—but I’ll spare you.)

February 19, 2017: Turned in final edits for the manuscript. The writing part was done, and I began thinking about how I needed to tell all of you that this was happening.

May 2, 2017: English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith is born.

You will note from the timeline that May has been a significant month for my writing these last few years. I think it is no coincidence at all that the publisher decided English Lessons should be a May release.

You will also note that much like the subtitle, the path toward writing this book was crooked. I did not know it would come about the way it did, nor did I know if it would ever come about. But almost four years after returning from Oxford I was finally ready to sit down and write about it. And in writing I saw that the people I met, the thoughts I thought, and the doubts I experienced had all been leading me somewhere.

If you’ve ever found yourself walking along the crooked path, whether that be in faith or a relationship or something else, English Lessons was written for you. I hope it can be a kind companion for your journey.

Happy birthday, English Lessons. (You took long enough to get here.) Welcome to the world.

 

***

*GIVEAWAY WINNERS: Katrina Epperson, Rupert Hays, Kayley Hibbert

In honor of English Lessons’ birthday, I am giving away three signed copies of the book! All you have to do is answer this question:

What is one trip you’ve taken in your life that impacted you and why?

Reply in the comment section below and you will be entered to win. If you also post your answer on social media using the hashtag #EnglishLessonsBook, I will enter your name twice.

You have until Friday to enter! Over the weekend, I will select a winner and announce it on Monday.*

65 COMMENT

  1. Rupert Hays | 2nd May 17

    A trip to Israel with your Mother and Dad. Your Dad re- baptized us in the River Jordan .
    Rupert

  2. Misty Simms | 2nd May 17

    A weekend roadtrip with one of my best friends, after a break-up. It reminded me of why God put people in our lives, and just how healing silence can be when we’re with people who love us unconditionally. And laughter, that heals too.

  3. Sarah | 2nd May 17

    Idaho for 4 months. It taught me so much about contentment and expectations and how I need to trust God to write my story in the way He sees fit. I have been following you for a long time and I can’t wait to read your book, Andrea! ?

  4. Jana Muntsinger | 2nd May 17

    So many trips, but the one that first came to mind is a job-house finding trip to Washington, DC. Neither the job nor the house lasted longer than 6 months, but the impact on the rest of my life, immeasurable. Congratulations Andrea. Rooting for you and English Lessons!!

  5. Janice Murphy | 2nd May 17

    The trip I took that impacted my life the most, was when I was 13. We took our yearly family vacation from NJ to spend our summer with my father’s family in Georgia. It was 1973, and that year in the car with my older cousin Susan she talked to me about how simple it was to be saved, by believing in Jesus Christ. Although i’ve heard it many times before and I was going to church, I believe it was at that moment that I accepted Christ and I truly became saved.

  6. Katrina Epperson | 2nd May 17

    I grew up in eastern Kentucky, but moved away at the age of 20. The lessons learned during my childhood shaped me into the adult I am today, but honestly I never realized how much until I traveled back to my hometown. Suddenly I saw the people, morals and values with new eyes. Things I had taken for granted (a friendly wave, a neighbor just stopping to check on you or if you need help, faith in God, walking into the church where I heard God’s message) suddenly seemed to touch my heart in a much different way. Words really can’t express the true depth of how my heart and soul was touched and learned to fly again. Sometimes getting back to your roots means finding yourself again.

  7. Julie Lutton | 2nd May 17

    A trip to Egypt, Israel and Ephesus. We cane home and immediately got back to church after many years of absence. Lifechanging for certain. The Lord was always there but we lost our footing. He covered us with Grace.

  8. Jerry Stover | 2nd May 17

    I’m so looking forward to reading your book! I can wait for it to show up in the mail.
    Hod has made so many changes in my life that it gets scary at times. I’m doing things now sharing Gods word that I was to afraid to do before.
    Good luck with your book and I’m looking forward to your next one. God Bless

  9. Krisann | 2nd May 17

    A trip to Europe with my Mom when I was a jr in college. She had a German penpal since 8th grade she had never met until then. Watching her experience meeting him, his family and his culture was amazing…..Then traveling Europe just she & I. One of the highlights of both of our lives. I saw my Mom in a different light after that trip…..Not just in a Mom role. Love her.❤

  10. Michele Schroeder | 2nd May 17

    Attending the Joyce Meyer conference in St. Louis last fall. Seeing Joyce, Beth Moore and Christine Caine all in one 3 day conference was life changing.

  11. Kim | 2nd May 17

    I didnt know it at the time, but a trip I took in October to Seattle, would be the trip that’s impacted me the most because it was the last time I went on a trip with my husband who recently passed away.

  12. Tammy Henderson | 2nd May 17

    A trip 34 years ago to the Army recruiter’s office changed my life forever. Putting me on a path which led me to meeting my husband, going to college and moving to Spokane WA where we raised our 3 kids. We’ve been blessed with a wonderful church that we’re investing our life in and Christian friends that embrace us as family.

  13. Martha T. | 2nd May 17

    My family went to Europe in the summer of 1968. It impacted me by showing me places that were different and interesting!

  14. Jenaye White | 2nd May 17

    I spent a year living abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico the year after I graduated college. Like what you wrote in English lessons, I struggled with doubts about my faith after growing up in a church bubble. I felt guilty that I wasn’t eager to share the Gospel with my non-Christian friends there. I felt like a foreigner on so many levels and often very alone, even surrounded by people.

    God humbled me in so many ways that year but also gave me so many gifts in the form of new friendships, new chances to grow, and LOTS of challenges. I’ll never be the same because of that experience, which I am still processing and trying to understand. English Lessons helped me do that!

  15. Martha | 2nd May 17

    Last year on our 10th anniversary, my husband and I went backpacking together in a nearby wilderness area. It rained and stormed and was wild the whole trip and impacted me hugely as I reflected on our marriage.
    Ps. I so hope to win this book! It feels very needed with some lessons I’m learning right now.

  16. Molly | 2nd May 17

    Columbia, Maryland…It wasn’t a glamorous vacation, but necessary trip. We have actually taken 6 trips there (from Illinois) for a treatment for Tourette’s Syndrome for my daughter. It has changed my life because I am seeing my daughter thrive (after years and years of exhaustion and pain). We thank God everyday for his plan in her life.

  17. Bridget E | 2nd May 17

    My husband and I lived in Alaska for two years. Coming from New York City, the time was invaluable for taking away the countless secular distractions that make you feel that shallow happiness. We also developed friends that supported our faith and challenged us to grow.

  18. Amy M. O'Quinn | 2nd May 17

    One of the most adventurous (and tiring) trips I’ve taken was a four-day, eight state (16 if you count there and back) road trip with one of my twin daughters. She was a graduate student at UNC at the time, and she was presenting a paper at a literature conference. We drove from Georgia to Albuquerque, NM, and I must admit that I was not thrilled about the trip–AT ALL. I dreaded all the hours of driving, and I had a preconceived notion that I was not going to like desert-like areas. Yep, I was right. I saw dry, dusty landscapes. Sure, there were magnificent mesas along the way, but I was ready to get there, get it done, and go home. Until….I saw the NM sky at sunset. It was magnificent! And there were jewel lights twinkling all over the canyons that couldn’t be seen in the daytime. It was magical. That showed me right then and there that God’s presence and beautiful handiwork is everywhere–even if we don’t immediately see it. Sometimes it takes a few shadows or dark times in our lives to truly see the shining blessings that are already there.

  19. John Weirick | 2nd May 17

    A trip to Greece with my wife confirmed we need to make it a regular part of life learning about differences, other people, history, and how the world looks from different perspectives (and cafe tables). Congrats on book release!

  20. E.M. Phillips | 2nd May 17

    In 1998 my lifetime travelling companion and I emigrated to Canada from Johannesburg, South Africa. We had been married only three years and it was a very difficult decision, leaving home and all things familiar behind. In September ’98 (after more than 40 hours of travel time and a couple of days in Vancouver) we finally landed at Calgary International Airport where a man in a white hat greeted us. “Welcome home,” he said with a friendly smile. Jet-lagged as I was, I must have seemed surprised by his words, so he added: “How long have you been home?” Immediately I knew my answer: “I have just got home,” I said. And Calgary has been home sweet home for us ever since. This year we celebrate our twentieth anniversary as Canadians, eh?

  21. Rick Brown | 2nd May 17

    My first trip to Italy with my wife impacted me by showing me how vital sitting at a table for the evening is to life and fellowship. The Italians are pro-“slow-food” and not so pro-“fast-food.” We came home and have spent longer moments around the table with family and friends. As our Italian friend Ivano says, “There has been enough work. Now it is time for food and friends.”

  22. Debra Henderson | 2nd May 17

    I went on a trip to Argentina & Brazil when I was 27 basically at first to learn Spanish that was set up by a close Argentine friend. I then was going to be marketing a language school/program back in Houston to major companies both in Argentina & Brazil. My husband was to join me for 2 weeks but, had a work glitch & couldn’t come. I carried on & was on my own traveling & marketing & meeting lots of wonderful people & having some amazing experiences in a new language & struggling with Portuguese when I was in Brazil. I only spoke English every Sunday when I spoke to my husband. I stayed for 2 & 1/2 months & found I could truly Be on my own in totally different environments & Be well. It was very empowering & has stayed with me since. That has continued to be freeing! That trip laid the foundation of feeling I can do what I want & need to in life; in whatever category, without needing someone to hold my hand.

  23. Kathy Ramlow | 2nd May 17

    A short jaunt to the chemotherapy chair my sister had been assigned. God revealed himself with amazing clarity as I encountered people that wanted to be anywhere but there. In the mirror I looked the same but walked out unrecognizable. A trip up the crooked path for sure.

  24. Tara Allman | 2nd May 17

    My husband and I took our kids, who were college and high school age, backpacking through Europe to reminisce our time living in GE during my husbands Air Force assignment starting in 2001. Impossible to explain the lessons we learned 11 years earlier from our German neighbors in a tiny village, our daughters year in a German school, pledging the flag every morning outside the Department of Defense Elementary School, tracking down our heritage, attending a base chapel worshiping with wounded men and women protecting our freedoms & so many other influences from all the countries we visited. It was an amazing trip that reminded us how much God teaches us through other cultures, experiences & people much different than ourselves. And yes….always lots of questions! Excited to read your book~

  25. Linda Visconti | 2nd May 17

    The trip to Hawaii I took with my mom. My husband was working there for several weeks, and I decided to join him for the final week. I invited my mom to join me, and she declined at first. My father had died just a few months earlier, and his long illness kept the two of them virtually housebound for years. I kept asking & she finally said yes. Trip of a lifetime! Not a day goes by that she doesn’t mention something about that trip. I am so in awe of her resilience and her pure joy in new experiences. Congrats on the birthing of your new book!

  26. Ashley Hill | 2nd May 17

    I worked in NYC for several months when I was 22 (SO young), right on the cusp of graduating college and plunging into the real world. My magazine job was exciting and “glamorous” yet, over time, I found that it wasn’t what I’d hoped for. That was more and more heartbreaking as time went on. I graduated from college two weeks after I left the city, and I got married four weeks after that. I loved married life (and still do!), but in small town West Virginia I felt a constant sting and often thought, “If my dream job isn’t found in a magazine like I thought it would be, where could it possibly be? And how am I going to figure that out?” And so on. Three years post-college and those cuts and scrapes are healed. I can look back on a lot of instances and smile, because I see how Jesus shaped adulthood for me in those years. (Note: I’m still in WV and I’ve detoured to banking/lending—and I’m OK! I survived!—but wow, can I relate to the “it took some time to find my footing” in adulthood, and the “Blogging and writing felt impossible” thing. That’s all me. However, 3 years after a tough learning experience, I think I’m ready to start baby stepping again. Discovering your blog today has been such an encouragement for me!

  27. Stephanie | 3rd May 17

    A summer missions trip to Ukraine. Not because the work we did was so life-changing, but because traveling was life-changing. Seeing that the world is about more than the U.S. and the Western world. Learning that people are people…where you’re from doesn’t matter. Seeing that history matters on a personal level – it makes a big difference in the trajectory of each individual’s life. No longer can you just write off what happens on the other side of the globe, because ultimately world history affects just that…the world.

  28. Julie Croy | 3rd May 17

    As a military family, we have traveled across the country and back. I’m so thankful for the stories and places that have abundantly filled our bank of memories. God has always placed us where He needs us or more fitting, where we need Him. During some trying years of multiple deployments, I discovered a relationship with Jesus for the first time. Hearing His voice was new to me, but I was certain He called when He whispered the word mission. Soon after, I found myself in Ghana. I had never even left the country and He sends me to AFRICA! The trip built my faith as I lost all of my control but gained all of His. This led to sharing the gospel with a room full of schoolchildren. The language barrier caused such a stir that upon the conclusion of “my talk” children stood and I thought they were going to sing to me. I was wrong! They stood and came forward to accept Christ! Within minutes we baptized three sweet faces in the river nearby. Glory to God!
    You see, I came home to three sweet little faces of my own. I wrestled with God to show me, tell me what the trip to Ghana meant. How do I live here when I was impacted so deeply there? I needed to know my next steps. Where can I go? Send me! And in time He said, you are exactly where you are supposed to be- the three sweet little faces that I gave to you- that is how you will continue to grow my kingdom. Mission. It can mean go. And it can mean stay. Both are important and both have shaped my life in ways I could not have ever imagined as I continued the mission to follow Jesus. Three faces in Africa. Three faces in America. One day we will all meet, stand, and sing!

  29. Hope Veiga | 3rd May 17

    In 2003 I traveled to Brazil. I had never experienced life in a third world country and to this day, I am impacted by what I saw. Little kids selling a stick of gum to have money for their family, people with nothing but will give you the shoes off their feet if you compliment the shoes…. I’ve never seen such generosity and happiness. I learned that money is not what brings the happiness. The internal joy of the people of Brazil was eye-opening!

  30. Erin Conley | 3rd May 17

    The trip from Philadelphia to Denver with my husband of just over a week. We were moving there; away from everything and anything I ever knew. It changed me in ways I can’t even describe, because I became a woman and a wife and an adult on that long journey across the country.

  31. Kayley Hibbert | 3rd May 17

    A trip to Colorado Springs. Hiking through the mountains for the week and simply taking in their beauty truly opened my eyes to God’s MAJESTY and beauty all around us. Even in my Illinois backyard.

  32. Jenny Savage | 3rd May 17

    Paris…food, beauty, art, gardens…repeat

  33. Katarina | 3rd May 17

    In 2015 I went on a 6 week evangelism mission trip with a campus ministry to a college campus in Guadalajara, Mexico. God not only gave me the best of friends there, but also the opportunity to share the gospel with them. He revealed himself to me in so many ways there. I grew so much I hope to live there permanently one day so I can continue to share the hope of Jesus with them.

  34. Dorina | 3rd May 17

    My first missions trip to Cambodia. It was right before Christmas and I remember praying to God for a “birthday gift” (my birthday is Dec 2nd). I left for Cambodia on the 1st. I felt so blessed and the people in Cambodia made me feel so loved. They who had nothing by monetary standards, had everything – love, family, friends, and most importantly FAITH in Jesus. Their faith was so raw, that even now, I’m inspired to live that way. On a side note, Your story has motivated me to write (and bleed) and for that – thank you!

  35. Jennifer McGee | 3rd May 17

    Spending a summer in India changed my perspective on life. I realized what was really important and nothing I could put in my pocket or pack in a box topped my list. My faith in God became stronger because I wasn’t filling my life with things.

  36. Laura Ring | 3rd May 17

    My husband and I hit a low point in our marriage. So we removed the background noise, the distractions and road-tripped it to Arizona. (Quite the change in scenery for two Wisconsinites.) On the drive there, we talked, really talked, and talked some more (it’s a long drive). In the couple months there, we realigned our hearts and heads, began healing wounds, and though we didn’t know it at the time, started on a path back to Jesus. Though there were a lot of opinions on us going to AZ, I would do it over in a heartbeat.

  37. Grace | 3rd May 17

    In July 2013 I went on the Camino de Santiago for the first time. It taught me that I can do so much more than I thought I could and the enduring power of God’s strength and how God can really truly provide us with anything. As I prepare to return to do the Camino for the second time I’ve been reflection on what it means to lean on God for strength and comfort.

  38. Jannette | 3rd May 17

    Unfortunately, I haven’t had the privilege of traveling as often as I’d love. Nevertheless, on our 19th Wedding Anniversary my husband and I decided to take a trip to San Diego, CA. We were excited to revisit our honeymoon spot, as well as all the old memories from that special day. We were awfully young and naive when we tied the knot. A massive world was waiting to be discovered. Life was bliss until we began to live it together without Jesus. In short, we became believers in Jesus, pro-created children, experienced lots of sickness, several deaths in the family, (including two of our parents) and many more life trials and tragedies. When we re visited San Diego we noticed so many homeless people. The streets were covered with big and little cardboard homes. The homeless homes had been set up in a way that looked as though they had been living there all their lives. My eyes were also open to the matter because my very own mother was homeless off and on for 15 years. My mom worked hard to put food on the table when we were young. She sewed dresses for my sisters and I, taught us all how to bake, clean, sing, draw (sh’e an amazing artist by the way), and she taught us to love people. I’m crying just having to type this out. Only a person with a parent who has been homeless can understand and see through all of the political aspects of homelessness. All of this is to say, ” God told me that I will one day be sharing my life story with others, and that I will be able to reach through barriers to touch the hearts of the hurting, in the name of Jesus.” How that is going to happen? I don’t know. Here’s what I do know. As we drove down the streets of San Diego, something inside of me wanted to bring awareness to the situation.

  39. Jenn Hays | 3rd May 17

    The trip that changed my life was my outreach phase of YWAM in Auckland, New Zealand. I have never felt God more in my life than I did there. He brought an 88-year-old woman into my life there and she rocked my world. She thought me The truth about transparency and that there were things in my life that God wanted to heal. My three months in NZ will hold a very special place in my heart and I cannot wait to be able to take my husband and family to the place where my relationship with Jesus was changed (for good) forever 🙂

  40. Crystal Odabe | 3rd May 17

    When I was 19 I went to Cebu, Philippines on a short term mission trip. All of the people were so warm and personable. It’s a really dark place spiritually though, so I was very eager to be a light. But on that trip i realized I needed Christ in my heart just as much, if not more, than the people I was outreaching to. That trip I got to know Christ more 🙂

  41. branden | 3rd May 17

    Yosemite. Seeing The Bridalveil Falls for the first time took my breath away…

  42. Maureen Polderman | 3rd May 17

    Last summer we went on a road trip down to OK and up through NE…three kids 6 and under in tow. Some of the sweetest memories, some of the most bittersweet. I kept asking God to send just an itty bitty tornado…crazy right?! But we were driving through Oklahoma and Nebraska so I figured maybe He’d give in to my crazy prayers for a personal display of His amazing power while we were in tornado alley.
    No such luck…sunny skies the whole trip.
    Two weeks later, back home in Michigan, a tornado came within a city block of our home during an afternoon thunderstorm. It was terrifying. And it was awe inspiring how God displayed His power in an unbelievable way, not where I expected it or prayed for it, but right where He had planned it. And with even greater impact. Lesson learned…don’t goad God about sending natural disasters. Do sit in wonder when He does it anyway, just to prove His presence. And don’t tell your neighbors putting a roof on what you prayed for !?

  43. Melissa Bulls | 3rd May 17

    I lived and worked in Yellowstone for a summer in college. I had never left my hometown or my parents house so moving 3 states away for three months was big and exciting. I expected to have fun and experience nature, but I really experienced who God made me to be by being away from everyone I was used to. I loved and missed my family and friends, but it sometimes God uses unusual circumstances to truly mold us and that’s exactly what he did for me in Yellowstone that summer.

  44. Kellie Diguangco | 4th May 17

    Last year I went to Italy. Experiencing the Colosseum in person along with all the incredible art was overwhelming. Rome was my favourite, a city full of history and rich in religion.

  45. Debbie | 4th May 17

    We took a train ride to Seattle last year. I learned how to slow down, sit and do nothing. A new chance to commune with my God and enjoy his creation.

  46. Lu-Ann Kubicar | 4th May 17

    The one trip that impacted my life was the cruise my husband, our two children and I took to the Caribbean when he returned from his deployment in Afghanistan. We had such a wonderful time reintegratting as a family after my husband’s deployment. During that time God blessed us with peace and joy as a family and helping us to reconnect with each other as a family. Congratulations on your book and I look forward to reading It! Best wishes!

  47. Esmeralda Araujo | 4th May 17

    Growing up, my mother and grandmother would take me and my brother to Mexico City and other cities throughout Mexico to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and other churches throughout Mexico. I grew up in that religious bubble, observing true humility. My mother passed away of breast cancer when I was 13 and my younger brother 7. Our whole lives she taught us about faith in God through her actions—things like giving to the less fortunate even though we were considered “less fortunate”, making holy pilgrimages, and at the end dying fully trusting that God would take care of it all. This past summer, I was able to make a 12-day pilgrimage through Mexico with my daughters, father/step-mother and diocesan family. It was such an emotional and spiritual experience. In repeating traditions with my daughters that my mother taught me I felt very connected to my mother and ultimately God’s overwhelming love.

  48. Sandy Alexander | 4th May 17

    When you spoke about a trip my mind went to motherhood. I haven’t been to many places. Mostly our yearly beach trips, or special anniversary trips. San Francisco, Chicago, Costa Rica, Riviera Maya. All of these trips impacted me but the most exciting trip was into motherhood! I dreamed of becoming a mom all of my life. I had my first son and named him Grant. I had my husband, home, baby and all our dreams coming true. Until mid day, June 9, 2009. The trip made a crooked turn. Grant’s second day at daycare was his last day on this earth. He died from SIDS and I was changed forever. I didn’t see it then, but God changed my path. My journey of faith was challenged. My marriage was challenged. My identity was challenged. If I wasn’t going to be Grant’s Mom who was I!? My husband and I had 2 more children. Our rainbow babies. Grayson and Lola were the promise of goodness after the storm. I know eternity in Heaven is waiting for me and I will see my baby again. I believe God’s promises and I know His plans are good. I want to write a book about our story. I feel the push but am scared to take the leap. I can’t wait to read your book! Maybe I’ll find some inspiration there! Thanks for reading 🙂

  49. allie | 4th May 17

    We took a 10-month trip to England and lived in Cambridge while my husband received his MPhil. We were brand new newly weds and lived in an International house with people from 8 other countries (and there were only 6 couples and two single people! so everyone was from a different country). It was the first time I was away from my twin sister. The first time I had lived in a foreign country. The first adult job (hello, I worked at Starbucks and Gap Kids because they were comfortable ;), the first of so so so many things. It was the most formative 10 months of my life. I came away stronger as a woman, as a wife, as a family member, as a believer in a God who never changes even when our life takes crazy changes. I am SOOOO eager to read about your time in England, as well! xoxo

  50. Stephanie | 4th May 17

    My Mother’s Day present to myself was a trip to take my father to visit the Grand Canyon. My mom had passed away far too early and never had a chance to see it; I felt an urging to help fulfill that desire of my father to see it. Less than a year later, he had a slew of health issues (and is still somewhat on the mend)….we’re so grateful to have had those memories and that precious experience together. Sunrise at the Grand Canyon; thank you Lord for that gift!

  51. Raj | 5th May 17

    I dealt with some horrible office politics last year. I was passed up for a promotion and was told it was because of who I am as a person. About a month later, I had to take a trip to Sweden for work, and do the same job I apparently wasn’t qualified for… and I knocked it out of the park! I truly believe it was the Lord’s way of showing me something about myself. Also, Sweden is beautiful but it’s one of the least Christian countries in the world. I tried finding a church etc. for the weeks I was there but I ended up spending more time on my own with the Lord which was a pleasant surprise and a blessing in disguise. I don’t know if this story is all very impactful to anyone else, but it was definitely a significant moment for me in my faith. Thanks for letting me share, congrats again on the book! – @dathtective ?

  52. Andrea Castillo | 5th May 17

    My husband and I moved to Oregon. That’s where we started our life as a family. That was our very first home and I loved it! It’s lifestyle is so different that it truly felt like “I’m finally home”. But life happens and we’ve since moved to a different part of the country and though I’m happy where we are, it’s funny how life presents you with people, conversations, and even tv shows that make you feel you’ll eventually “be home again”.

  53. Jackie Z. | 5th May 17

    38 years ago a college friend invited me to spend the weekend with her on Wilson Lake in Killen, Alabama. And as fate would have it, I met my husband that weekend. Nine months later we were married. I would say that was a good trip….it wasn’t far from home, it wasn’t glamorous….it was a once in a lifetime opportunity! God is good and my cup overflows!

  54. Sissy Sosner | 5th May 17

    Our most recent trip with Jeremy and Noah; to look at “colleges” for kids like Noah…Intellectually Impaired/Learning Disabled. Traversing the East Coast looking at three schools in New Haven, CT., Sandwich, MA., and Cambridge, MA. I was reminded throughout the trip that the Lord has “Noah’s back” today, just like He had “Noah’s back” the day he was born (@28 weeks)! I prayed repeatedly before we left for our trip that the Lord would make it VERY clear which school meets “the fit” standard. While I had faith He would make it clear, what surprised me (beyond my wildest dreams, once again) was the overwhelming gratitude I felt for the life the Lord/Noah has given us and the people he has brought into our lives. I met amazing people supporting adults with Intellectually impairments, friends that texted me throughout the trip w/ love and support, family that prayed for us, and strangers that brought me to tears. A trip of God’s grace and gratitude. Mahalo for giving me a opportunity to share! Blessings Andrea~

  55. Beverly | 5th May 17

    Before I had kids, I went to Brazil to work with a local church for a short time. God taught me so much there I actually often mark time as before and after that year. My understanding of grace and prayer grew exponentially and the relationships I built there have endured.

  56. Debbie K | 5th May 17

    India. We adopted and brought our daughter home. Life-changing!

  57. Allyson Boop | 5th May 17

    As a mother I don’t get much quality time with the Lord. I was lost, and felt just done… Defeated is a good word. I had just closed my photography business to stay home after hearing the Lord tell me to slow down. But I was sad and confused and a little angry. My church was offering a prayer retreat for women a few weeks ago and I decided to try it. I’m so glad I went on that 3 day trip to the beach… It was such a life turning few days. I needed that fellowship and alone time with God. I feel renewed, and clean – a fresh start!

  58. Nancy M | 5th May 17

    A trip to Scotland in 1988 where I felt like I had returned home. The land was beautiful, but even more than that, the people were so welcoming. I was at peace.

  59. Bonnie J | 5th May 17

    I had been on many church trips as a kid and now I was an adult youth sponsor at church in my late twenties. I had traveled in the US with the church to camps and other similar trips, but nothing prepared me for going to Juarez Mexico to build houses. I have no trouble with hard physical labor, but God really stretched me on this trip. I thought I was going to “help” the kids from my church, but God had me in a place where I was being stretched by him through those kids and the wonderful Mexican people. We were only there 5 days (without a real shower) but it went by in a flash. I learned so much about the kindness and gratefulness of the families we built for. I also learned a new culture of what a family looks like and does for each other. Some of these families used all their income to feed us lunch one day and it was the best tamale meal I have ever had. The teenagers I was blessed to go watch over taught me more about my personal relationship with Christ and what I was lacking. It was the first time I was really learned why and how to sit down quietly and have one on one time with God. These teenagers were already at a spot spiritually that I hadn’t ever taken the time to do thoroughly and properly. I was always in a rush. This environment of no TV or radio helped me to just be still and listen to the Holy Spirit. We had so much fun and were so proud of the work to be able to provide a family a strong warm home. I’ve been again several times and it has always been wonderful, but this first trip was truly an eye opening experience from God.

  60. Zack | 5th May 17

    I lived in Scotland for 14 months with the AIM program. It was a good experience over-all, but I also had some negative experiences too. Over all God taught me a lot about myself & what I’m made of. Can’t wait to read your book madam.

  61. Marty carrell | 5th May 17

    Can’t wait to read!!!

  62. Taylor | 5th May 17

    Seven months after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I flew to Italy with some teacher friends and students. I was scared and vulnerable having just accepted my life-long illness and traveling “alone” for the first time. I grew so much on that short one week trip. God knew I needed independence and freedom; that I needed my world rocked in a way so that I would lean on Him and not those around me. Plus seeing Italy was pretty amazing too. 🙂

  63. Debbie Bradford | 5th May 17

    I grew up in Georgia and never dreamed of leaving, but when I was a senior in high school I went on a trip to Auburn, Alabama. I fell in love with the school and my favorite song became Sweet Home Alabama and the rest is history. I graduated from Auburn, met my husband at Auburn, had two sons and a daughter-in-law that graduated from Auburn and on Mother’s Day I will take my 3 month old grandson to Auburn. So many memoirs have been made in this town also known as the loveliest village on the plains. I now live in North Alabama and I am so thankful that God chose Alabama for me to be my home and raise my family.

  64. AA | 8th May 17

    I remember of my trip in Cameroon, learning to live more modestly than I was used to.

  65. Andi | 17th May 17

    My husband and I took a trip for our 3rd anniversary to Portland, Oregon. We spent so much time outside and admiring a much different landscape than Texas. The air was crisp and smelled green. We hiked through the Oneonta River Gorge, which is likely my favorite adventure I have done to this day. I love photography and was able to capture some truly great moments that we cherish daily.

    Next month we are packing up and heading to New Zealand for 2 weeks. We will be seeing the country in a camper van and it will most definitely be a trip of a life time. I would love to have your book to accompany me on our next journey!

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