Nancy J. Farrier has been the coordinator for FHL’s IRCA for fourteen years. She is an award winning author who lives in Southern California in the Mojave Desert. She loves the Southwest and interesting historical past. Nancy and her husband have five children. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Karen Ball of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her web site.
I couldn’t wait to write this blog about a writer taking time off from writing to pursue another dream. In late June, my two youngest daughters, my husband and I drove from our home in Southern California to Portland, Oregon where my oldest daughter and her husband live. This would be a fun time to visit family and friends—and to realize a dream I’d had since I was a teenager.
For the past year, my 23-year-old and I had been training for a bike tour. We purchased touring bikes, paniers, the right clothes, studied routes and listened to advice. Then, a couple of months before we were to leave, my husband decided he would join us. He went in early and rode before work began.
Our plan called for us to leave my daughter’s house in Portland and ride to the Oregon coast, and then travel down the coast. For our first tour, we planned 50 miles a day, and were only going for three or four days. Easy. Fun. Exciting.
We arrived in Portland on Monday evening. Tuesday we went for a short ride. For Wednesday, the day we were to leave on our ride, weather predictions were for heavy rain. No worries. We could start a day later, shorten our trip and still get a nice ride in. I didn’t let those rain clouds diminish my anticipation.
Thursday, my husband decided we needed fenders for our bikes. By the time the fenders were installed it was past lunch time. And raining. Quite a bit. Especially for desert dwellers like us. So, we set out in the afternoon to drive toward the coast, hoping the weather would clear and we could ride part way. We were almost to the coast before the rain slackened.
We spent the night in a motel in Astoria, a quaint town. We walked to a restaurant, the Wet Dog Café, which I thought appropriate for the way our trip was going. The food was delicious, and I noted they had options for feeding your dog. Very cute. Returning to the motel, my daughter and I went for a short bike ride, chatting about riding down the coast in the morning.
Not so. We woke up to rain and low visibility. So, once again we loaded up the bikes, this time driving down the coast, hoping the weather would clear. By this time, I was struggling to tamp down my disappointment. I had prayed, worked hard, planned well, and now the dream I’d looked forward to wasn’t happening. I’d even joined the International Christian Cycling Club with the intent of using the bike ride as an outreach, praying God would bring about the surprise encounters as He does so often.
The rain didn’t stop until we made it back to Portland that evening. All those months of preparation hadn’t come to naught. Not only that, but people would joke about us biking to the coast with our bikes on the back of the car. Utter failure. That’s what it felt like. Like I’d done something wrong and disappointed not only my family, myself, but also God.
The whole trip had a dismal feel and I began to question what I’d done wrong. Hadn’t I prayed enough? What did God want me to learn from this experience? What valuable lesson did He have?
As I prayed God showed me I’m not a godly example simply by what I do, but by how I react. Had I spent my time moping, or whining—something I wanted to do—what would that have taught my family and friends? Plus, I would have missed the many wonderful blessings God had for me. We were able to visit places that gave me wonderful story ideas or blog ideas. We laughed together, and my daughters and I talked for hours. Building my relationship with them is priceless, of more worth than any dream I can imagine.
Being open to God’s leading means sometimes my path goes in an unanticipated direction, whether in writing or in other areas of life. Maybe another time I will see the fruition of the bike tour dream, but for now I am content to thank God for lessons learned. I look forward to seeing what He has in the future.
What about you? Have you had vacation disappointments, or other setbacks, that God used for beauty?