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During fall break I took my kids to my mom’s place. It’s nice out there with a few acres to run free. We followed Chickenpea’s (mom’s dog) trail along the fence line he carved to chase cars. It starts out nice and clear where only a few feet separate him from the road, but about thirty yards along the fence where the cat claw and desert brush thicken, the trail becomes spotty. We made a game of it, pushing our way through the weeds to find the driveway once again.

Along the way, we stumbled upon my old fort. A tilted monster stone pushed up against a hill fringed in thorn bushes made “headquarters” for me and my friend Mike. I even found the cactus he fell on when we pretended to run from bad guys. It looked small compared to the porcupine it made of Mike when he was about six years old. They both survived and thrived.

My daughter devoured my memories, pouring through the fort and my old yearbooks. She laughed at the photos of my “awkward” years, and oohed over the evidence that I was indeed a cheerleader for a season. I’m really not the cheerleader type, but at the time I enjoyed it and I’m glad for the experience. I

I'm on the bottom right. What was I thinking?

I’m on the bottom right. What was I thinking?

endured the try-outs (pretty tough for a wallflower), pulled on that stifling hot sweater at every basketball game and learned to kick higher and yell a little louder than I ever had. I even surprised myself.

Every Friday, my school gathered around the flagpole for the pledge of allegiance, to sing the school song (Go Bobcats!) and for announcements. Once, in eighth grade, my teacher called me up for making the honor role. I assumed it was a mistake and didn’t go forward. It wasn’t, and that surprised me too.

In fact, lots of things have surprised me which pretty much proves why it’s okay to leave the well-worn trail for the unknown. I followed art, but ran into writing. I prefer to hang in the background, but since my college days, find myself being ushered to the front. Sometimes I decline, but occasionally there’s this soft voice that says it’s time to get uncomfortable.

It’s okay when things don’t go exactly our way. It’s okay to point our feet toward God and His unknown heights, even when He seems too far away, because when we underestimate ourselves a little too often, He might surprise us by showing us what we can do.

Have you found yourself veering from your carefully plotted trail? Tell us in the comments.

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