From Trekking the Andes to Sitting in LA Rush Hour Traffic

How did I get here? I’ve asked myself this question quite a few times since landing in LA a little over five weeks ago. Just before I was backpacking into mountain villages in Peru #livingmybestlife. 

abbie-bernet-237683.jpg

In short, I came here to start grad school and got a job to support myself (because life is twice as expensive in SoCal than small town Texas). In many ways, I fulfilled a dream coming out here, and truly I’m grateful. But all dreams come with small moments, too. 

I’m not very good at small moments. Instead, I live for the big, grand adventure, fantasize about taking risks, and constantly have to be doing something. But most of life isn’t like that. Most days it feels small, even when fulfilling a dream. 

I was sitting in traffic a few days ago (I commute an hour both ways to work), and the still small voice started whispering again. Though I leave a little later than most commuters, I’m still making quite a trek from Pasadena all the way to South Bay in Torrance. The elevation changes and so does the temperature, and most days I drive right through downtown. Each time I pass through, I think wow, so this is what it feels like to live in LA

owen-cl-123303.jpg

There are perks, to be sure, but when you haven’t moved in 20 minutes and the podcast you’ve been listening to gets old, it’s easy to lose perspective. The phrase that still voice whispered was “vantage point” and I feel as though I have been given a gift to appreciate the small moments, all of which add up to something really big. 

I’m extremely grateful I had the courage, the support system, and the means to make a big move like this. It’s opened so many things for me. And I want to stay thankful, to see from this vantage point of what a gift this truly is. Today I even thanked God for traffic - I’ve gotten to catch up with friends and family on the phone more than I anticipated, because what else do you do in a car for two hours a day? (I’m also on the hunt for all the podcasts, so HMU if you have suggestions). 

A little over a month ago I was trekking through mountain villages in the Andes mountains - hadn’t showered in days, packed everything in a backpack, and was doing what I love most. But today I’m sitting in the outside patio in front of my office building wearing heels that hurt my feet and eating the cold lunch I packed last night. I actually mourned having to become one of those meal planner people, but it’s honestly the only way to manage eating well when you are gone from 8 to 10. 

I’m sure the small moments will continue to build as my classes at Fuller begin. I imagine myself staying up well into the night writing papers and listening to audiobooks on my drive to and from work. But all of those moments make up a big, God-sized dream - and that’s significant and big and exciting. 

For the first time in a while, I feel as though I have clarity and focus and even an appreciation for small moments. Because I’m seeing from the right vantage point. And because I’m staying thankful. 

A couple days ago at Fuller’s orientation, President Mark Labberton said “smallness is the antipode to worship.” (If you’re like me and had to look up the word antipode, let me save you some time - it’s basically a fancy way to say opposite). When we worship (and stay thankful) in each moment, no matter how small, life gets bigger. And that’s the point at which I want to keep seeing.

My Deepest Insecurity & Greatest Strength

Ya'll want to hear one of my deepest insecurities? Well, here goes. I've always been a mover, shaker, gotta keep going kind of girl. Oftentimes it's really hard for me to stay in the same place because I'm constantly dreaming of going or doing something new. So when someone says "you're all over the place", it cuts deep.

My life looks different than a lot of other people my age - I'm not married. I don't have a house. I haven't stayed in a job for more than two years at a time. I don't have kids. On the surface my life may seem "all over the place" or even irresponsible. But then I think to myself, my life is grounded in something unseen and in Someone much bigger than me. 

I signed up for a life of adventure and risk and I'd much rather keep moving than stay put and wake up one morning to find myself stuck. Don't get me wrong - there's nothing wrong with being married, having kids, working a steady job. All of those things are admirable in my opinion! But for some reason, my life has taken a different sort of turn and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

A friend told me recently that she wished she had the courage to take big risks like I did and I honestly didn't think much of it. But now I'm learning to embrace the risk-taker and dreamer inside of me as a strength. It's made me more acquainted with failure, that's for sure. I think we all need a dose of reality and must learn to persevere in the midst of failure. To get back up again and keep risking - that requires a hell of a lot of courage. 

I may be "all over the place", but I'm also courageous and willing to take risks. One such risk was my decision to spend the summer in Cusco, Peru this summer. Though I could have been working, saving money for my next transition (among a million other things), I decided to spend the summer giving my life away, surrendering my rights, adventuring into unknown places, and coming ALIVE in the process. 

The photos above were taken at Lake Titicaca last week. The lake sits on the border of Peru and Bolivia at over 12,500 feet, making it the highest lake in the world. If you're ever in Peru, I'd highly recommend making the trip. 

Surrender & My Next Adventure

During my personal retreat last month I sensed three words or themes for my upcoming year - to explore, belong and create. Little did I know I'd have the opportunity to do all three in the last few weeks! Shortly after that short but sweet weekend in East Texas, I signed up for an exploratory trip to Peru with two of my dear friends. And it was wild, to say the least. 

Oftentimes when we surrender our own plans and ideas and open ourselves up to listen and wait, we find doors opening that we never could have opened or even identified on our own. So when I was invited to join a team in Peru this summer, I jumped and wholeheartedly said yes to another adventure of a lifetime. To me, this trip represents a convergence of my interests, future plans, passions, and current projects. 

IMG_6454.JPG

During our trip we traveled to three cities: Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa, all of which were beautiful in their own way. We listened (oftentimes through blurred eyes) to story after story of people who have chosen to lay their lives down in hopes of reaching and loving others, especially those who do not yet have a voice of their own. If you're interested in hearing more about this trip and ways you can be a part of bringing Light to a region desperately in need of Hope, sign up for my newsletter below. 

To reference one of my lessons learned in year 25, I'm more confident than ever that although I may pursue my own options and plans, surrender is the best choice. This is much easier said than done to a motivated dreamer meets go-getter, but striving in my own strength typically doesn't create the results I want (not to mention leaves me tired, anxious and confused). 

What you may not know, is this invitation came shortly after several other doors closed and I was left wondering why I was doing what I was doing and where I was going next. I had no choice but to surrender or give way to bitterness, refusing to let go of my tight grip on my own plans. 

I'm thankful I serve a creative and generous God who seeks to open doors and lead me on adventures better than any I could have dreamed up myself. During the month of February I challenged myself to begin each morning with five minutes of thankfulness and it changed something in me. When we begin our days with thankfulness, it shifts the atmosphere, attitude and heart. Through thankfulness, my little heart surrendered, my hands loosened their tight grip, and I began looking forward with hope and expectation as I watched God start to bring clarity and open doors. 

If you've found yourself standing at series of doors knocking till your hands hurt or discouragement starts to set in, step back for a moment, wait and listen. Offer up your own plans, desires, dreams, ect with open hands and proceed with a gentle openness. You may find another door was just waiting around the corner.