An Ode to Parents, Forests and Symphonies

Last week, if I wasn’t “feeling puny” (my Grandma’s phrase for feeling a little under the weather) I was consumed with putting together an itinerary for when my parents come to visit next month. Those two things trumped most anything else for three days solid.

I can’t even tell you how excited I am to have my parents come! That’s why I’m going to forego making up for the Favorite German Find post I missed last week and today’s usual Photos of the Weekend.

I’ve been anticipating my parents visit since before I arrived in Germany. Since arriving, I have kept my ears pricked, jotted things down that I did, read or heard and put them on my “must see with M&D” list.

After all these months of hoping and planning, it came time to thin out the dense forest of options.


There are times that seems impossible. There are SO many castles to visit. So many palaces to tour. So many monuments to admire. So many villages to explore. So many shops to peruse. So many foods to taste. So many roads to travel. So many sights to be in awe of or make you say “huh?”.

How do we choose?!

When I used to dream of visiting Europe I had a wish list of places to go. Ireland was #1, England #2 and Italy was #3. When ‘wish’ turned into ‘reality’ seven years ago, The Netherlands became #1 and I decided my list didn’t really matter. Holland practically chose me and I wouldn’t trade that now. I would love to visit any of those other destinations, but being in any spot of the world outside of what I’m used to is a gift.

The choices of life in general are just as dense as the forest of traveling. Sometimes the forest should be thinned out so we can see a clearer view of what we want.

Eliminate stuff that doesn’t matter. Focus on the things that are most important. The path may lead you to the thing you listed as #1 or it may put something at #1 that was never on the list to begin with.

I’m preaching to the choir of me here because I want to remember the lessons learned. Coming to Germany was an unwritten book. I had no plans to work. I had no idea what my day would look like. No idea how much or little of Europe we would get to see. No idea how we would afford to pay our bills living “on the economy”. Sounds irresponsible, I know.

Looking back at the moment we made the decision to come, there was no way to tell what Heavenly Father had in store for us or how it would change my view life. It’s not just the country or the people or the fact that I’ve deprived myself of everything I knew and loved (except for Alan, Woody and my suitcase, of course). It’s been the thinning out of the forest–spiritual, emotional and tangible–and finding the path that feels right for the future.

While living in Europe, we haven’t been able to visit Ireland, Scottland, Rome, Amsterdam, Naples, England, Jerusalem, Greece, Prague, or Brussels (just to name a few of those checked off the local American circles’ lists). But what I have experienced has been much more than just being here in this beautiful corner of a European country. It’s deeper and more sacred. And it has everything to do with the choice to live here.

It reminds me of a thought I had while at the Temple the other day, as I pondered the creation. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, designed all things on this beautiful earth just for us. And then he suffered and died, not just so we could admire the wonders of His creation, but experience them, to experience joy while we are here. And like a symphony (here’s the geeky movie soundtrack lover in me), the places, people or cultures we have experiences with are the instruments in an orchestra playing the soundtrack to our lives. Each life experience (or instrument) contributes to make our symphony more complete, more meaningful. Each symphony is different. Like the number of symphonies that can be composed, the number of joyful life experiences is endless. Endless. And even that idea is just a glimpse into eternity.

As I think about sharing the wonders of the European experience next month with the two people who instilled the seed of this belief in me, to see the looks on their faces and hear what they like most afterward, I feel like the happiest little 7 year old of me’s.

At the end of my experience in Germany and in life, I just want to compose a beautiful symphony. It seems doable after thinning out the forest. I just hope I can remember how to do the thinning in the thick of things.

4 thoughts on “An Ode to Parents, Forests and Symphonies

  1. What a great tribute to the folks. I hope the experience is like the motto of UTA’s expansion projects: Ahead of schedule and under budget. (by “ahead of schedule” I mean you get to do everything on the list).

  2. You are the best of composers because you never forget who the director is. I am thrilled for your parents and MORE than a little jealous! Love you guys!

  3. Oh, that is so sweet and beautiful! You can’t be more excited than we are. i want to start packing today but that would leave me two things to wear to work every day. But I’m making a list. and wondering about the cost of extending our time. I know–I’m already feeling greedy about time.

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