Grumbling and Gratitude on Vacation

Nothing is worse than grumbling on vacation. Last week, my family took my mother to St. Louis via Springfield. After visiting the Lincoln museum in Springfield, we drove down to St. Louis and checked into our hotel. Since it was still light, we took a walk. Everything was under construction, and nothing was open. The weather was hot, and we were quickly sweating. We visited one of the top ten places to visit in St. Louis and found a run-down area with tons of construction, closed shops and nothing to do. Everybody was grumbling (including me). We redeemed the day somewhat with ice cream but still came back to the hotel a bit unhappy. 
IMG_5473         The next morning we began the IMG_4912day as a family in prayer. Particularly, we prayed for grateful hearts to replace our grumbling, giving thanks for all that God had provided. We prayed, because without the presence of Jesus, the best food and activities would feel empty, but with the presence of Jesus any food and activity would be filled with joy! We prayed for the presence of Jesus to bring unexpected encounters with God’s grace and provision. We left the hotel and visited the City Museum of St. Louis. Filled with tunnels, climbing towers, mosaics, slides, airplanes and caves, our children spent hours exploring with fascination and wonder.  As lunch time neared, we were getting ready to leave and saw a crowd gathering on the fourth floor. We checked it out—and found a small circus! The perfect way to end the morning was to watch these trapeze
artists and gymnasts perform their routines in this mini circus. For months, Eden had been asking to go to a circus, and we had an unexpected encounter with a circus! Just like we had  sought God’s presence and prayed for unexpected encounters with God’s grace that morning, God provided in such an unexpected manner. 
        Such unexpected encounters with God’s provision have been the hallmark of our time away: looking out over the backyard over breakfast and seeing a deer in the backyard, listening to live country music over hamburgers for lunch and hoping for and then hearing John Denver’s “Country Roads” (the only country music song I know), losing and then finding my glasses TWICE when swimming in the ocean in North Carolina, and rich times of connection with dear friends and family in Nashville, Atlanta and North Carolina. Truly, life is relationships, and relationships make life so sweet.  
God surprises us with grace each day. Gratitude fuels expectancy, an expectancy of unexpected encounters with grace. In gratitude, we delight in God’s provision and presence. From this heart of gratitude, our expectancy grows for more unexpected encounters with God’s grace. We hunger for and ask for God to do the supernatural in our midst. May we cultivate grateful and expectant hearts, giving thanks for and hungering for more of God’s presence.
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