Chasing Messes, the Crucial Key for Every Adventure

Copyright Unsplash

Copyright Unsplash

I want a life beyond safe and neat: welcoming uncertainty, impervious to bad attitudes, that has no need for strong-arming chaos into control. I long for a life open to adventure and new vistas, to embrace a bold, yet surrendered way of living, like I’m perched on the edge of the world, overlooking God’s glory. I imagine it’s right where I’m a smidgen terrified but thrilled to my toes with what could possibly lie beyond view. I want a life that chases messes.

Highway Bribery

In our family, we pursue chaos by hitting the road. I remember when we pulled up to the entrance of the Grand Canyon a few years ago. After 5 states and 48 hours cooped up in the minivan together, no amount of candy or pleadings could entice our two kids to stop whining or fighting. Bobby and I wondered if we had pushed everyone to the brink (quite literally).

Epic roadtrips like this have earned our family the title of “Roadtrip Warriors.” Outfitted with audiobooks and camping gear in the minivan, we have traversed 31 states in 3 years.

Even though we may give off the fearless adventuring vibe, the reality is: every cave, volcano, and waterfall comes with a cost. There’s vomit at rest stops, marital spats over phone usage, and yes, jelly bean bribery in the desert.

Sometimes adventure feels more like a flat tire.20160227_161855-01

A Better Way To Lose Control

I remember when my daughter was a colicky baby and cried through most of her first year of life. Sleeping through her racket and my postpartum was a matter of survival. I wanted life to be messy without avocado on the walls and dog hair in the butter. Chaos and clutter made me feel inadequate and out of control.

One day I realized she didn’t want to wait on life, and truthfully, neither did I. But how does one go about living an open-handed life, accepting the gift of each wonderful, crazy moment when really, it feels better to retreat under warm covers?

Fear kept me from living in forward motion.

Adventure is not just a noun, a thing, or even a nice thought to which we aspire. Adventure is a verb, an action to “engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.” Living life like an adventure means moving into it as uncharted territory, open to every possible discovery.

Having less management over my life freed me to take bigger risks. Before we knew it, trips to the park became white-floured cooking explosions. And splashing in the creek morphed into ridiculously addicting road trips.


Beyond the Edge

That day at the Grand Canyon turned out to be the strangest, most wonderful adventure. At an overlook sign on a narrow trail, five-year old Kyle nearly fell to his death. My husband saved him with his bare arm. We cried and I made everyone hold hands the rest of the day. I don’t know how, but we pushed onward through the mess.

We watched the sun set it’s golden crown on the horizon with people who dangled their legs over the canyon’s edge like it was nothing. As we boarded the bus back to the parking lot, Kyle banged his elbow on a rail. A blonde German and his girlfriend gave him a band-aid and a thumbs up. The man tried to quell Kyle’s sniffles by assuring him the bandage was waterproof. He gave him another thumbs up and said, “Hot man!” with a big grin. (Translation: “You’re ok, dude!”)

The bus rattled through the dark. I remember looking past the rows of passengers at Abby talking with a British girl about rainbow loom bracelets and what it was like to live in Italy versus Kansas. She was overcoming her fears of talking to strangers.

At 10 p.m. the road warriors sat around a tiny dinner table in a rented RV. We devoured greasy burgers on stale buns. Kyle snored in his plate. A lucid gratefulness swept over my exhausted being: for the simplicity of epic moments, saving grace, and every beautiful mess we would get up and chase again tomorrow.

Forty Days of Adventure

Free Download: Tiny Adventures

Needing some practical ways to embrace the mess and live more adventurously? Charissa Steyn of Art of Adventure has created 40 Tiny Adventures to help you do just that. Simple ways to:

  • practice stepping out of your comfort zone
  • enliven your heart to explore the unknown
  • embrace change
  • love the mystery of following Jesus
  • make messes
  • step out in faith
  • travel deeper into God’s heart.

Download it free.

Journal Giveaway


We are giving away one hand-crafted 40 Days of Adventure journal (a $16 value). To enter, leave a comment below and tell us your next adventure, big or small.20160227_161410-01


Charissa is also offering 15% off any item in the Art of Adventure Shop. She’s got journals and goods to inspire you to live life courageously. (I love her postcards!) Use coupon code “tinyadventures.” (Good through April 30, 2016).Adventure-Begins-1

Giveaway official rules: The giveaway begins Tuesday, April 18 at 6 a.m. CST and ends Tuesday, April 26 at 12 p.m., CST. Winners will be selected at random and notified by email within 24 hours of the giveaway’s end. The winner must respond within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected.

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April 19, 2016