Greetings from the Flipside

Cheryl McKay (Screenwriter/Book Author)

Greeting Cover

SYNOPSIS

Hope Landon has been rewriting other people’s greeting cards since she was six years old — there’s always a funnier caption. She’s all set to chase those creative dreams with her musician fiance in New York City until he leaves Hope at the altar, deciding he must not really love this girl if he can’t write a song for her. That may give her something to write about.

Hope disappears alone on what was supposed to be the couple’s month-long honeymoon. Upon returning she learns of her funeral — everyone in her life concluded Hope must have killed herself after being jilted. Needing a fresh start more than ever, she heads for the Big Apple only to discover it’s not that easy to rent a place when you’ve been declared dead.

Taking shelter at the YMCA, Hope soon lands a job at a Christian inspirational greeting card company as…

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Do You Battle Fear?

Battle Fear Graphic

I did. Very much so. And for twenty years. I have to admit sharing this particular story was probably one of the most vulnerable choices I’ve ever made. But my drive to help others who are trapped by fear, anxiety, and panic, and unable to live the life they desire drove me to share my story. I never would have gotten married to Chris in 2011, had I not gone through this healing journey to get over my fears.

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I want to share the opening of Finally Fearless with you, excerpted from Chapter One:

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I thought I was getting married.

I also thought I was finally putting my panic disorder and anxiety issues behind me. I can’t seem to climb out of this deep, dark pit. Yet, I feel God is prompting, calling to me:

“Write about it. Tell your story.”

I wrestle with Him, asking, “Why? Why should I share my story when I feel so unhealed myself?”

Maybe in telling it, I will find healing. There’s only one way to find out.

It’s late 2003 as I embark on this journey to pull together the pieces I already started, and to write anew. To make this story whole.

Only I don’t have an ending.

Until I get married, I will not be able to test whether or not I’m truly healed of my anxiety disorder. I promise; that will make sense soon enough.

But everything just fell apart.

I’ve never felt more alone in my life. This natural life. Physical, tangible life. But I’ve also never felt God’s presence this closely. His voice clearer.

Maybe this is the season. Maybe my healing is finally within grasp. Maybe in sharing my story so openly, others with similar problems and challenges can also find healing. Maybe that will make the past twenty plus years of pain worth it.

I don’t want anyone else to suffer the way I have.

***

Cheryl’s Journal, a short story (2003)

When she found herself at the crossroads, she didn’t know which road to take. To go left meant running from her feelings, her fears and pain. But the path was so dim, faint, colorless the entire way. There was no light at its end.

To go right meant jumping straight into a long stretch of darkness. Mile after mile. There would be fear and trembling with every step. But at the end of the road to the right lived colors, hues, the light.

She asked herself, “Which road should I take?”

She chose the left. It may have been dim, but at least it wasn’t terrifying. 

For years, she dragged her feet down that road. With each step, she saw nothing of the life she craved. She felt no fear, yet she also felt no joy. Her life was changeless. Predictable. As she looked ahead, the future held more of the same—nothing of the life she hoped to reach. The path led her down the dead end road.

She knew she had to turn back and go right, down that road of darkened, unmapped territory.

She traveled back, mile after mile, before she returned to that fork in the road. Then, she chose the right path. It was dark, daunting, lined with fears to face. But if she refused to walk through these shadows, she’d never find the light. That’s the hope she held so tightly.

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A Small, Small World

Have panic attacks destroyed any of your dreams? Has fear and the experience of anxiety shrunk your world down to a few safe places? Have your fears caused you to modify where you can go, what you’re willing to do, whom you’re willing to be with? If so, there’s good news: you don’t have to stay that way. You can seek healing. There is a way to restore your world back to its normal size with the breadth that includes all the treasures life has to offer. If you’ve been stuck on the dim road where anxiety gives you limitations and few safe places, it’s time to choose a different path. Now is the time to choose the path that leads toward the light. For me, that light came through God, Jesus, and the healing balm of the Holy Spirit.

Through this book, I will share my story. I’ll share how I let anxiety rule my life, choosing the dim road that held no hope. I’ll share how I finally chose to face my fears and walk toward the light no matter how frightening the path was. I was able to change from the road on the left to that road on the right because God held my hand every step of the way, even when I didn’t feel it. I hungered badly enough for the kind of peace that only God could provide to walk through storms, refining fire, and every dark place to reach it.

I hope you’ll open your heart’s door and journey with me. Perhaps together we can change the way you face your anxieties. Wouldn’t you love to be on the path towards freedom from the debilitating effects of fear?

An estimated forty million Americans suffer from some form of an anxiety disorder. It’s the most common mental condition, yet only one-third receive treatment or help.

Keeping our disorder a secret is destroying our spirits, trapping us in a jail cell barred with panic, fear, and anxiety. It’s time to break the silence and reach out for the help that’s available. That can only begin when we first admit we have a problem: to ourselves, to other people, to our healing God.

I am not a psychologist or medical doctor. Most of the time I struggled with an anxiety disorder, I had no idea what was wrong with me and felt alone.

Have you ever felt like you are the only one in the world who has this challenge? Have you kept it a secret because you feel like no one will understand? I hid my problem because I didn’t know there were forty million others who had it, too! And for at least ten of the twenty years I had an anxiety disorder, I didn’t even know what it was called. That is why I decided to write this book. I want you, my readers, to know you are not alone anymore.

Throughout this book, I will share words I believe God has spoken directly to me during prayer or through dreams. God spoke to me in ways that were able to heal my heart and heal me of my anxiety disorder, freeing me from living with panic attacks and irrational fears. If you don’t know how to already, I encourage you to learn how you can hear God’s voice so you can welcome Him to heal you divinely. If you read any of the books I talk about, put Dialogue with God by Mark and Patti Virkler on the top of that stack. (Please note: Dialogue With God now has an updated version since I penned this book, called 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice. I also recommend The Holy Spirit: Amazing Power for Everyday People by Susan Rohrer).

Hearing what God has to say heals us because God is the Wonderful Counselor. When we learn how to hear and discern His voice, He can speak healing and encouragement to our hearts. He can offer comfort and advice. But if we are not listening, we will not hear. And for many of us, it’s simply because we don’t know how or we’ve never been taught.

I firmly believe I would have recovered a lot sooner if I had known how to hear God’s voice earlier. I know His counsel helps with emotional struggles because I’ve used this to help with other emotional problems, like depression. I never would have crawled out of that dark hole without God’s intervention and words spoken to me. But God wants to talk to all of us, not just me! Don’t think of this as some special gift I have. God loves all of His children and wants nothing more than to be in communication with us.

I don’t know if panic ever goes away. The only test is living and seeing if you ever have an attack again. Since none of us know the future, it’s hard to tell if panic is ever gone from our lives. I can testify that what used to take over my life is now in the background, a distant memory.

However, if panic or anxiety are at the forefront of your life, there are so many different things you can do to walk actively toward the healing God can give you. That walk will be explored throughout this book.

Let’s journey together on the path toward healing, toward a life that is fulfilling and free from overwhelming fear. Notice I didn’t say anxiety-free, for that would be tough for anyone who breathes.

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If you or someone you know battles this problem, I hope my story can help you. To order copies of Finally Fearless, visit the links below that go to Amazon, where the Ebook version of the regular book and the paperbacks of both books are available.

Finally Fearless: Journey from Panic to Peace (Paperback)

Finally Fearless Workbook: Journey from Panic to Peace (Accompanying Workbook)

Finally Fearless: Journey from Panic to Peace (Kindle Version)

Finally Fearless Workbook Ebook:

http://www.lulu.com/content/e-book/finally-fearless-workbook-journey-from-panic-to-peace/13694632

FF Front             Front Cover Workbook

Now available as a two book set:

Finally the Bride & Finally Fearless (Two Book Set): Overcoming Obstacles to Finding True Love (Kindle)

FTB FF Cover FINAL

Watch the Finally Fearless Video:

Hope for Singles Waiting to Find Love

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Are you frustrated with being single? Have you been wondering where God is in the midst of your life and its seemingly missing “love story?” So was I. For almost 39 years of my life. I tried to pen what that love life should look like (with my purple pen, in my journals. Ten, twenty. Okay, maybe more like thirty journals worth?) But seriously what I penned was no where near my reality.

So I turned my pen over to another outlet. One in which I vent my frustrations, my questions, prayers, and cries out to God. I turned it into a book, Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting.  Now, it’s available in audio form.

One of my  most popular blogs has been:

16 Ways to Pray for Your Future Husband

So I know there are a lot of people out there waiting, searching, wondering what God is up to in this area of life. That blog is excerpted from a chapter of this book. The list is available in the link above.

FinallytheBrideAudio

I was very blessed to find such a delightful voiceover talent, to capture the heart of “me” and all my angst. Her name is Shawna M. Washabaugh. She can be just as snarky as me when moaning to God about “why is this taking so long?” She did a wonderful job, not only voicing the book but producing it as well.

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Shawna M. Washabaugh

(Narrator / Producer)

It’s a great alternative to the print book for those who would rather listen to audiobooks or for book clubs who want to go through the book together. You can listen to chapters during your meeting and then discuss them.

You can listen to a sample on any of the sites where it’s on sale at these following links:

Finally the Bride on Audible.com

Finally the Bride on Amazon (Under Format: Choose Audible Audio Edition):

Also available on Itunes. Search: Finally the Bride in Audiobooks or search by Cheryl McKay

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I pray that my story encourages you in your waiting, and that you will know you are not alone in what you feel. I also recently started a Pinterest board, hoping to collect various quotes, articles and such that could be of encouragement to singles:

Hope for Singles on Pinterest

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If you prefer to read print or kindle versions, visit these links:

Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting (Paperback):

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Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting (Kindle) :


The Unpopularity Contest

In this day and age, I know many of my beliefs are unpopular. In general, I try to stay out of controversy, especially politics, because that’s just not where my passions are. I just try to live true to what I believe. I do not expect others, who don’t believe the same as me, to behave as though they believe. I only ask for all to allow me to be myself while I let you be yourself. (The role of you and me is already taken by two separate people.) It’s not my job to change what anyone believes. I don’t stand in judgment of people and their choices; that’s not my job either. (Thank God!) I won’t tell you I think something is “right” if I don’t believe it is. But I also won’t try to change you into believing the same as me. I can only ask for the same respect in reverse. From my end, we can still be friends and disagree.

That being said, I have always passionately cared about teenagers and young adults. There is one topic that can be very unpopular in this culture that especially affects them but many older people as well, especially as people are getting married later and later.

My beliefs definitely started with my Christian faith, my desire to please God, and what He outlined in the Bible as best and His design. But my beliefs don’t come from just there. It’s not just “religious” beliefs (I’m not a fan of that word anyway). What I’ve come to believe about a hot button issue is something I believe from the bottom of my heart is truly what’s best for our emotional, physical, and spiritual health. While this issue is a story you could have gleaned about me from my book, Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting, doing an interview highlighting the topic is a first for me.

So, what is this about? The hot button issue of sex before marriage.

To follow is a link to an interview I did for an online site called “Waiting Till Marriage”. If this topic interests you or if you know someone who may need some extra support in this area, feel free to check out the interview and share it:

CLICK THE FOLLOWING LINK:

Waiting Till Marriage Interview

Interview Graphic WTM

To purchase Finally the Bride on Amazon, click the Paperback or Kindle link below:

Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting (Paperback):

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Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting (Kindle) :

16 Ways to Pray for Your Future Husband

16 Ways to Pray If anyone knows what’s it’s like to wait to find love and marriage, it’s me. I waited 39 long years of life to walk down the aisle. Trusting God during the long wait was sometimes extremely difficult. Some days, all I could do was pray. I started to realize that “all I could do” was actually quite significant. I found out later how God-led my prayers actually were, once God revealed to me who I was going to marry and what he was going through in his life when I chose to pray certain things. My prayers mattered; my prayers paid off. When waiting to find a husband and get married, it can seem like you are helpless and “doing nothing.” One of the best things to do while waiting is to pray for your future husband. To follow are 16 prayer points that you can focus on during your waiting season, to pray for his preparation. You likely won’t know who that person is going to be when you are praying these prayers. But thankfully, God does.

  1. Pray for his walk with God, that he continues to grow spiritually and is prepped to be the spiritual head of a household, and that he makes God the top priority in his life.
  1. Pray for his ability to hear God’s voice, for his ear to be in tune to hear all of God’s instructions.
  1. Pray for his will to be bendable toward whatever God wants for his life.
  1. Pray for his emotional health—that any past wounds be dealt with and healed. Pray for restoration in all areas.
  1. Pray for his physical health.
  1. Pray that he break free of any unhealthy addictions, if needed.
  1. Pray for his career, his life’s work, that he be established in the field where God wants to use him and that he be wise with his resources.
  1. Pray for his ministry—that he be sensitive to God’s call on his life when it comes to ministering to and serving others. Also, pray for God to prepare both of you for the ways you will minister together.
  1. Pray for his preparation—that he yields to all that God’s potter’s hands would like to accomplish in him.
  1. Pray for God to send any trials necessary into his life that will allow the preparation process to be complete. I realize that may be a bit controversial. Knowing how much God has accomplished in my life through trials, I would expect nothing less of my husband’s journey toward me.
  1. Pray for God to prepare him to be a father, if the two of you will ultimately raise a family together.
  1. Pray for God to help him be responsible with his finances and prepare him to be a significant contributor and provider to the household.
  1. Pray for his identity as a man, his masculinity and self-esteem, that he grows into the man God wants him to be.
  1. Pray for him to not be distracted by any counterfeits—especially other women that God doesn’t intend to use for his growth.
  1. Pray for God to allow this man to see you the way God wants you to be seen, with God’s heart toward you.
  1. Pray for God to show you how to pray for your husband. Be open to whatever His Spirit may whisper to you, to cover your husband’s needs. If you feel God gives you something specific, write it down and date it. Save it for later.

I hope that praying these prayers will encourage you in your waiting, and help you feel that you are accomplishing much in the spiritual realm. I pray you will wait on God’s best. These prayer points are excerpted from Chapter 10 of my book, Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting.

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To purchase on Amazon, click the Paperback or Kindle link below:

Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting (Paperback):

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Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting (Kindle): 

Introducing: Dates With God, a new series by Cheryl McKay: (www.dateswithGod.com)

25 Dates With God: Volume 1 Adventures in Faith (KINDLE)

25 Dates With God: Volume 1 Adventures in Faith (PAPERBACK)

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Visit my other blogs written for singles, two of which I wrote while I was single and waiting:

Paging All Singles: There is Nothing Wrong with You

Father Knows Best, Right?

Morning Glory: A Blog About Waiting

One Move Can Change Your Whole Life

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Morning Glory

Ps 30:5b (niv) “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

Everyone who knows me almost immediately thinks of the color purple. My purple feathered pen. The name of my production company, Purple PenWorks. My insistence on wearing purple practically every day of my life.

Outside my apartment is a rather stunning display of Morning Glory flowers. They’re deep purple and blue, and they look like trumpets, ready to herald good news.

When they are open, that is.

They seem to blossom in the morning and especially when it’s sunny. They can go into hiding by nightfall or on cloudy days. Sometimes, a few of them refuse to come out, even when the rest of the flowers around them are showing off their colors.

Have you ever had one of those days where you wanted to go into hiding? You didn’t want anyone to see your face because they’d be able to read the distress all over it?

There were seasons of my life where I felt like I had nothing to “trumpet,” nothing to shout from the rooftops or celebrate. Every day started the same and ended the same, with me closing up into myself—just like those flowers that hide their beauty.

I knew in God’s Word it said that while weeping may remain for the night, joy would come in the morning. I often wondered which morning and on what calendar God was referring to. I felt more like I was in mourning: mourning the loss of dreams, hopes, time frames, and progress in life. Where I wanted to be by that time in my life. Many mornings came with tears still on the brink. That lump still near my throat. Where was this joy I kept reading about?

This was a long season I call waiting.

It was a season of longing.

A season of trying to cling desperately to hope but finding it short in supply.

When I was in my early twenties, God made me a promise that one day I would get married. I thought that sounded awesome because it had been my desire since I was a young teen. I was happy to hear this was something God had for me.

What God failed to mention was that it would take 16 more years of waiting before His promise would even become a remote possibility, that I would be almost 40 years old when love would finally show up in my life and I could take that long-awaited walk down the aisle. God didn’t warn of the trials, the heartbreaks, the journey to come. While I felt ready to blossom much sooner, God would have me in the shade for over a decade and a half of waiting.

Yet still, God wanted me to hold onto hope.

Often, He reminded me of that precious promise from many years ago. Sometimes, the reminders hurt. When I managed to keep my heart in a place of contentment, any reminder of that missing promise-to-come would kick up that desire like wildfire; contentment would be out the window. I would assume if God were bringing up the topic that the time was imminent. Oh, how many times I would be wrong!

And yet, God still asked for my faith; He still asked for my hope.

It was through the fire of waiting that God refined me, built my trust in Him, prepared me for marriage, taught me to love unconditionally, and showed off His extraordinary sense of impeccable timing.

What God wanted from me was absolute surrender. A surrender of my purple pen. (The pen I would use to write in my journals from a very young age about how I thought my love life should go. I made that purple pen a character in Never the Bride. I used that purple pen to write Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting. And waiting. And waiting.)

God didn’t want me stealing back the pen once I gave it up to Him, during all those times I didn’t like what He was writing.  He was definitely not taking any of my suggestions—for timelines, for specific guys I prayed about, for the changes I ached for.

Instead, God surprised me by writing something completely different. Almost seventeen years after God first promised me that one day I’d get married, He reintroduced me to a friend from long ago, Chris Price. I’d met Chris just barely a year or so after God first made me that promise of marriage. We lost touch after a few years of being causal friends, then reconnected over a decade later in 2010.

Chris knew right away there was something to this connection. (Though wise man that he is, he kept that tidbit to himself and waited for God to talk to me about the future of us.)

With Chris, instead of me trying to convince God like many times past to “give this guy to me,” God was trying to convince me to say “yes” to this man. So, what did I do?

I said no.

For six months, I said no.

I had my ideas about what I wanted, and this idea of God’s didn’t fit my plan. But God wanted me on His plan. Slowly, He worked on my heart. He revealed to me what His best was.

Once I was willing to walk through the door and give Chris a chance, everything moved rather swiftly. Once I started cooperating with God’s plan and stopped fighting it, I stepped into the best, most loving relationship I’ve ever experienced. (Well, outside of my Heavenly Father, that is.) For the first time in my life, I fell in love with someone who actually loved me in return. Completely and unconditionally. That had never happened to me before, in almost forty years of life.

I could have continued to say no.

I could have missed out on God’s best.

What’s funny, in hindsight, I see so clearly why God chose this amazing man for me. In the beginning, I may not have been able to see it. But now, having just hit my one-year wedding anniversary, I see the extraordinary gem I could have missed out on, had I continued to say “no” to God’s perfect plan.

Do you ever get impatient in the waiting seasons? Do you get distressed? I had no idea, during the wait, why God had me “on hold” for so long (also known as “the holy pause” button). But as sappy as it may sound, my husband was worth the wait. He was worth the pain and anguish those years of waiting brought into my life. When I think back on the people I wished God would have given me, I have no doubt now why God said no to me every time.

When God says, “It’s not time yet,” trust that He knows what He’s talking about. He knows what He’s saving you from.

Whenever I get impatient for God to move in other areas of life, I try to remember how He had my best interests in mind with the timing of my marriage. He can still be trusted with the timing of the rest of my life.

If you are in a waiting season—no matter what you are waiting for—try not to give up hope. Hope can only make your heart sick when it’s a hope we have given up on. Trust, that if what you are waiting for isn’t here, it’s either not for your best or it’s not the right time. I can attest that though weeping may remain for a night (or even many nights), joy will come in the morning.

In the meantime, do not hide or shrink away, like those flowers that refuse to show off their colors. The world needs your beauty, that unique contribution that only you can make.

Even while waiting, you can still shine.

Blog photography by:

Christopher Price Pix

Blog originally written for and published on:

Southern Belle View

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To purchase Finally the Bride on Amazon, click the Paperback or Kindle link below:

Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting (Paperback):

*****

Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting (Kindle) :


Now available as a two book set:

Finally the Bride & Finally Fearless (Two Book Set): Overcoming Obstacles to Finding True Love (Kindle)

FTB FF Cover FINAL

The fictional version, Never the Bride, is available in paperback, ebook, and audio book at various book retailers:

Never the Bride at Randomhouse
Never the Bride at Barnes & Noble
Never the Bride at Books-A-Million
Never the Bride at Amazon
Never the Bride at Christian Book.com

Never the Bride

Finally the Bride Front Cover Photo by Lisa Crates of Lisa Crates Photography (lisacrates.us)

How to Plan a Day Trip

San Diego ToPrint-6196

(Coronado Island, San Diego, CA, Dec. 2012)

One of our favorite ways to bond and enjoy some fun is taking day trips together, or an overnight weekend getaway. We prefer to go places that we can get to within a couple of hours by car, if possible, unless we have more than two days. Therefore, a lot of our travel blogs will include areas around or outside of the Los Angeles area, that we can get to without spending an entire day in the car.

Early on in our marriage, we talked about how we’d like to celebrate certain holidays or special occasions. Since both of our birthdays are in December—and we could still give Christmas gifts to each other—we decided to make it a yearly tradition to take a weekend getaway to celebrate our birthdays instead of exchanging gifts.  We also like to do the same for our anniversary in May. Those occasions call for overnight stays, normally two nights / three days. And it’s a fun thing to do two times a year, when we can swing it.

There are also times when we just want a day out of town, even if it’s not an overnight. Our goal is to take one day every other month and go on a day trip somewhere.

Our love of traveling together started when we made the long trek out from North Carolina to California, moving Chris from NC to Los Angeles after the wedding. I didn’t know that I would enjoy trip planning so much, but since that time it’s become a hobby. The funny thing is, from the moment we knew we’d do that cross-country road trip, Chris was excited about it.

I was not. I thought all that time in the car sounded boring. I was never a fan of being in the car as a kid (but my idea of a road trip was taking a whole day to drive from NC to MA and that’s a long time in the car for a kid. It wasn’t about stopping along the way to enjoy various touristy areas. It was about getting there.) That’s kind of how I pictured our cross-country road trip.

I saw Chris’s enthusiasm and wanted to find some for myself. We decided we wouldn’t be in a hurry to get to California, and instead try to enjoy the sites along the way. So I decided to start investigating the locations and map out a route. I found places to stay along the way and needed to plan reasonable mileage intervals for each day. We decided to make the trip like a second honeymoon. Planning it was a blast, and it was the beginning of a new hobby for me. We did that trip in eleven days, ten nights, driving no more than about 400 miles per day, so we’d have energy to enjoy the places where we stopped. (We will do a separate blog about that trip, for anyone thinking about taking that sort of trip.)

Chris & Cheryl Arkansas-2393

(Bed & Breakfast in Little Rock, AR, Day 4 of 11 on cross-country road trip, July 2011)

For those of you out there who “don’t get out much” (like I never did), I wanted to share some suggestions on how to plan a day trip or a weekend getaway, and how to make the most of your time, especially since, by nature, time is very limited when you only have one to three days to play with.

Take a look at a map of the areas surrounding where you live that you could get to within a couple of hours. Make a list of all of the places you may like to visit. Then start working on an itinerary for the trip.

How to plan a day trip:

  1. When you choose a destination, take a look at any of the cities or towns on the way to determine if there are any stops worth checking out.
  1. If there is more than one way to get to the place, determine if you should go two different routes, one on the way and one as you return so you can see different sites each way instead of retracing the same steps. Choose the prettiest route when it’s light out if it will be dark on the way home, unless there’s a stop you really want to take on the way there of the other route.
  1. Once you choose the destination, use a travel site that has a list of the best things to do with traveler reviews and ratings. Use them to decide which ones you would like to try that would be fun for both of you, or trade off and pick an activity one would love then one the other person would love. (When I plan our trips, sometimes I love to plan a surprise stop that I know my husband would enjoy, but I keep it a secret from him.) Trip Advisor has become one of my new best friends! It’s my favorite site for getting travel ideas.  It has a great system divided out by the best hotels (for weekend trips), restaurants, and things to do in a particular area. The reviews are very useful because people who contribute to that site give you tips that may not be obvious if you visit the official websites for the attractions. A site like Trip Advisor will rate the best things to do by most popular / highest rated. Most people will let you know costs, parking information, anything helpful like how to find a location if there’s something about it that makes it challenging. Knowing all of this information in advance has helped us tremendously to have a really smooth trip. When you only have one day or one weekend, you don’t want to waste time looking for things. They also can give you great information about the best times of year to go and why. (For example, certain flowers or animals / mammals may only be around during certain times of the year, so if that’s important to you, you can plan your trip to that destination accordingly. We have looked into trips based on butterflies season, or when elephant seals and whales are visible, or poppies and lavender are in bloom.)
  1. Make a list of all the potential things you’d like to do, then find the official website for each activity so you can get current information on cost, parking, and hours of operation. This will help you plan your trip. If it’s based on something beach related, closer to your trip you may want to check for the times of low and high tides, if an activity like tide pooling is on the agenda (where low tide is important).
  1. Create a schedule of what you will do and in what order. Naturally you can leave room for flexibility. Have enough planned but don’t be afraid to drop something off your list if you are enjoying a location so much you want more time there. You can always pick up what you missed on a separate trip. (And believe me! We have lists of things we didn’t get to.)  Just don’t make being in a hurry a detriment to enjoying where you are.
  1. Next, print off maps and address information for every place you want to go. (Don’t assume you’ll have cell phone reception in every area or even GPS signal.) To save us time, I would program all the main addresses into our GPS before we left town, so I wouldn’t have to mess with it once we were on the road. This way, when it was time to go to the next place, I just hit the address already found.
  1. Try to mix your activities up between outdoors and museums and give yourself a nice variety of things to do.
  1. Do a search for coupons if you plan to visit any museums. We often found buy-one-get-one-free or a few dollars off just by searching for the attraction or museum name and the word coupon on the Internet. Print those off. Every little bit counts!
  1. While you can’t always plan where you’ll be when you’ll want food, definitely research a couple restaurant options in each place you may be around mealtimes. A restaurant that sounds good maybe not be well reviewed. People may also review a place that is good for local flavor if you’re looking for something unique. You can also look into pricing so you can choose places within your budget for the trip. Also feel free to bring a cooler of drinks and a picnic lunch if you know you’ll end up in a place that would be good to have a picnic, early in your trip.  Sometimes, to save money, we’d bring lunch but eat out for dinner.
  1. Take photos! Track your trip in pictures or videos. I love to scrapbook our travel adventures. We also try to find fun places to take photos that aren’t your typical pose and smile type photo.

Chris & Cheryl Arizona-3426

(See what I mean? Wacky photos. 🙂

This was in Williams, AZ, about one hour below the Grand Canyon, on Route 66.)

In the future, I will be blogging about particular trips we’ve taken and some suggested itineraries for that place.

The focus of this site, Finally One, is also about bonding and finding ways to create intimacy in marriage, which sometimes comes just from getting out and having fun together. “Finally One” is a phrase that came to us, not only because of our books that start with the word “Finally” or out of the concept of being “one” in marriage, but being of one accord, in agreement, on the same page, or in peaceful harmony.

Every trip we’ve taken together we feel has been an investment in our marriage.  It’s not “money wasted”. Sometimes we’ll forgo eating out for the month to put our whole entertainment budget into one day trip. It’s worth it to us because of how meaningful these days have been.

I strongly encourage married people to take some time away together like this, because it gives you some focused, concentrated time to spend together, to talk, to enjoy each other’s company, and get away from regular distractions and technology.

In Jan. 2012, I had gotten pretty sick, and it lasted for almost two months. So Chris and I had very little we could go out and do for an extended period of time. When I started feeling better, I was aching for a day trip. We chose Newport Beach. Not for an overnight, just for a day. I can’t tell you how healing that day felt. To be outside, to breathe, and to get some focused time away with my husband where we just got to play and have fun together. It was so good for my soul and for the two of us.

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(Newport Beach, Balboa Island, on top of the ferris wheel, Feb. 2012)

I think too often, married couples forget to have fun together. So I am suggesting, if you haven’t tried incorporating this type of activity into your marriage, give it a shot.  It’s so fun to experience new places together.

If you aren’t married yet, find a friend who would enjoy travelling with you. When I was single, I stayed home far too often. I never ventured out much to enjoy the places around me. I had no idea how much California had to offer in fun places to see until Chris came into the picture.  But there is absolutely no reason to wait for that! It’s safest to travel at least in pairs. So find a friend who wants to enjoy an adventure!

I got to take one such trip with one of my best friends, Caroline, before I got married. We road tripped from Niagara Falls, to Ontario, to Montreal, the east side of Canada, across New England (New Hampshire, Vermont) back through New York and home again. It was the trip of a lifetime, for me. I remember being so surprised by how awesome everything looked, how colorful, how unlike where I lived day to day. I was so fascinated by things, like leaves. (It was October. Having been in Los Angeles for the ten years prior, I hadn’t seen a real autumn in so long.) That trip made me realize I had stayed home too much in the so-called “comforts” of home and forgot there was life out there. I am thankful to my friend for encouraging me to go on that adventure.

Sample Canada Trip Photos (Oct. 2010): 

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I hope everyone is encouraged to get out there, experience life, and enjoy the trips along the way, whether you are single or married!

Stay tuned for future blogs about specific places you can travel.