A Free Hotel Stay and My Lesson in Actionable Faith

Hotel Stay Brochure

For some time I’ve wanted to start a blog. I wouldn’t admit it to myself, though. I just told every other person I came in contact with and who seemed to have an interesting story, “Hey, you should start a blog!” I said it to my mom; I suggested it to a number of friends, even strangers. So years later when I finally made the admission that I was in fact the person who should and more importantly wanted to start a blog, Around the World Gurl was born.

In the past, my dad has accused me of skipping the “due diligence” part of planning. For me, the issue isn’t my lack of research, it’s my (seemingly) inability to, for lack of better words, put 2 and 2 together. When I do all the front-end grunt work (research, investigate, get all my ducks in a row), I either lose wind/excitement or something in my findings just completely discourages me from continuing on.

Knowing this, I sometimes just opt out of the first step and jump right in and take on a learn as I go attitude. If I’m being brutally honest with myself, I usually find myself at the first part – immobilized. [Relevant side note: In elementary school, I was awarded the Disney Dreamer and Doer Award. I think that it had something to do with being the only student to exclaim that I wanted to “go Ivey” for college, which didn’t happen. But I was very hesitant to accept the award because I knew I was a dreamer, but “doer” was so not me.] I have a number of unfinished projects. Well, actually I have a lot of unfinished research.

So when I began on the road to ATWG, I told no one. I started with step 1: research. Because of the type of work that I do, I was already subscribed to a few top-notch content marketing blogs that had great insight into successful, meaningful blogging. I started checking things off my list based on their recommendations: self-hosted, begin writing posts before launching the blog, write down the purpose of the blog, social media is a must, etc.

After a few months of absorbing their recommendations, I started: Logo. Reaching out to web designers (and quickly finding out that they were out of my price range). Deciding to do it on my own. Purchasing domain names. Finding the perfect template. Purchasing hosting service. Building the website. Adding content. Then at 11: 30 pm on August 5th, I removed my coming soon page and the site went live. I had put 2 and 2 together. I was excited. I was motivated. Determined. Focused. Envisioned.

The following evening my “needle”, in the form of a very good friend, came knocking on the door ready to burst my bubble. When I decided to share the launch of my blog with him, very few people knew: my mom, dad, and graphic designer were the only ones. I was very proud of the way my blog had turned out and was excited to share it with a friend I had known since high school. I was definitely nervous. After a bit of hesitation, I showed it to him. I can’t recall exactly what happened in the seconds or minutes that followed. But one sentence he said will probably play in the back of my mind for some time to come: “You go out of the country once and decide to write a blog?” He followed it up with a laugh. I knew he was joking. But his words stung. They went deep for one reason: This same thought had haunted me since I began this process. I always pushed it aside. But there it was smack dab in my face. He was right. Travel blogs are for “travelers.” They are for jetsetters. I am just a working girl who dreams, plans, saves, and travels. What was I doing? Even when I went into my explanation that ATWG wasn’t a normal travel blog but rather a “travel experience” blog, I was unconvincing even to myself. In past weeks, silently going over the description of the blog energized me. Now, hearing myself say it again I was unsure. What would I blog about in my dreaming, planning, saving phases? What if I don’t travel somewhere foreign and sexy for another two years. I started backtracking.

The next evening as I drove home those words and the doubt continued playing itself over in my head. I had to push my feelings aside and put on a smile for the sales representatives that had set up a meeting with me days before to discuss their product. I knew I wouldn’t buy it. But my aunt had said something about helping her to win $100, so I went with it. I remember she also mentioned a free hotel stay. I was skeptical about the hotel but was happy to help her win the money. Before the sales pitch even began one of the reps handed me a brochure for a free 2-night hotel stay. Okay. What did I have to do? Nothing. I don’t have to buy anything? Nope. The small print: the hotel had to be 100 miles from my residence. That was the best small print I had ever not read! Plus, for $125 I could turn it into a 7-night hotel stay. The locations were local AND international! Looking over the brochure, I smiled. Out of nowhere, I was given a great opportunity to travel. Then it hit me: You cannot wait until things are just right or perfect to begin living your dreams. Rather, take the steps when things are unsure, when you can’t see that clearly, and as you take each step doors will open, opportunities will present themselves, the way will become more clear.

When it comes to making that “Top 10 Places I Want to Visit” list a reality, it can be daunting. For most, the money aspect can be discouraging. For others, trying to find someone to join in on the fun can stop a great journey in its tracks. But I challenge you to go ahead and open up that second savings account for your special trip. Send in your vacation request. Begin planning and watch as things, people, and other resources come along to help make your vision a reality. Don’t get discouraged into inaction.

“When He saw them, He said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed.” Luke 17: 14 (NIV)

 Have you taken a trip that began from nothing more than actionable faith? Please share below.

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