I was wandering around Tuscany last week, loving the tiny walled cities, the watch-towers (torre), bell-towers (campanile), the warm, funny people, and the excellent, gargantuan feasts, six and seven course meals. The elegant hotels and the massive repasts, the table littered with fine wines, were organized by the tour group, ATG. I would normally have contented myself with two courses, and good-enough accommodation, but I enjoyed it, as a one-off treat!
Oh, I suffer from wanderlust, a craving which got into my bones from reading, and watching movies, and looking at art, and I have travelled as much as I could afford throughout my adult life.
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Piazza Duomo, San Gimignano, Tuscany.
I founded a small company in July 2007, an immensely stressful experience at first, as I had no business background.
A few months later, a Swedish friend described Stockholm, and the elegant canals that ran through it with Baltic palaces and mansions on either side. I longed to see it, but could not see how we could ever afford it, with all the money from the business going to pay private school fees and the mortgage, or being ploughed back into the business.
But as our friend spoke, the thought struck me like an electric shock, “Anita, pray. Pray that your business will provide enough for you to see Stockholm.” And suddenly that impossible dream seemed entirely possible.
And my eyes filled with tears, because I immediately knew that, of course, if I prayed, it was possible. It definitely was possible.
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And over the next couple of years, we had lots of orders for the unusual stuff we sold from Europe. And each time I stuffed envelopes to Copenhagen or Stockholm or Oslo, or Malta or Corfu or Granada or Ravenna or Bologna or Donegal or Brittany or Strasbourg or Corfu or Istanbul or Geneva or Slovenia or Finland, I’d pray, “Lord, ‘my’ stuff is going to these places. One day, may I sell enough of them that I myself can visit these places.”
But our product list was then small, and the costs of the business were high–economies of scale and experience not having kicked in–that I could not see how it could ever be possible.
But I kept praying.
And we worked hard, too hard perhaps, because having taken on the challenge of building a business, it became our main, obsessive interest which absorbed all our energy and passion.
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In 2009, two years after starting the business, we explored the whole of Norway, which we had long wanted to; and in 2011, we explored Sweden, and, yes, Stockholm, and canoed down the river, with the Baltic palaces on each side; and in 2012, Denmark. I love Scandinavia.
Last week, as we walked the streets of Montalcino, Tuscany, I told Roy about the prayer I had prayed in 2007 as Goran had told us about Sweden, and about how it has been lavishly answered. Since 2009, we’ve taken the girls to all those magical places I mentioned earlier.
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Why did God answer that totally frivolous prayer?
Well, why not?
I think that is how the Lord of Universe sometimes views our prayers. Much as we should view our child’s request for an ice-cream on a hot day when we have money in our pocket.
And perhaps he will use my love of travel in the story of my life. I have three big prayers about how I want him to do so!
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Perhaps my prayer was answered because God is a father, and delights in giving us what we ask for.
Think of a child climbing into her father’s lap, saying, “Papa, may I have a doll house for Christmas?”
And if there is room in their house for the dollhouse; and if the father can buy it while meeting his other obligations; and if the child can be counted on not to scatter the doll’s house furniture throughout the real house; and not to swallow bits and pieces; and if it will be a pleasure, not one more stressful bit of clutter, sure he will give it to her.
And so, when I figuratively climbed into his lap, in 2007, and said, “Father, I want to see Scandinavia. Father, open up Europe and the Europeans to me. Father, please ensure that this business I am establishing will provide our family enough money to travel widely in Europe,” he could have said, “Oh, Anita, your business really is writing. Wait. Your writing will enable your travel. And that will give you more joy.”
And in retrospect that is what I should have prayed for.
But I asked for my little business to prosper so my kids could go to the best school for them, which was expensive and private, and so he said, “Yes, child, okay,” and it happened to me as I prayed for.
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He is our Father, and he encourages us to pray outrageous prayers, and because he is a kind, even indulgent father, he often grants them.
Not always, of course, but climbing into his lap, and whispering our heart’s desires into his ears, is one of the things which will change the course of our lives more than anything else! I am convinced of it.
What you pray for consistently has a tremendous, seismic, thoroughly under-estimated effect on the course of your life.