It’s All About the Journey

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” ~Lao Tzu (Quote source here.)

In the past several years I’ve traveled thousands of miles by car. At the beginning of my road trips in May 2012, they were job related as I was still searching for that very elusive job that has never shown up. However, as I mentioned in my previously blog post, Traveling Light,” it became much more than just a never-ending search for a nonexistent job (apparently, since I never found it). I discovered a part of America I was never able to take a really good look at during all of the years I worked, and it’s definitely been worth both the miles and the trips.

I ran into a very interesting article based on Psalm 32:8 which states, I [God] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” The article is titled, 9 Road Signs of the Christian Journey,” by David Fitch, senior pastor of River Ridge Neighborhood Church. Here is what he had to say about these 9 road signs:

It’s 100 AD and you’re driving your chariot down a Roman road. You come to a crossroad and see a sign that tells you to stop to wait for passing traffic. Amazingly, even in Roman times, traffic signs were useful and very much a part of the culture of the time.

Fast forward to the 21st century when a modern the highway is decorated with green interstate signs, orange construction signs and even electronic signs that tell you what’s ahead. Signs are such a common part of the American roadway infrastructure that we may take them for granted. But it all started in the Roman Empire.

The ancient Romans used tall columns called “milestones” to relay information to travelers on its roads. They indicated how far away Rome was, and gave travelers directional information, and were some of the earliest road signs in the Western world.

In the very near future, it’s likely we’ll begin to see more digital road signs. The advantage of these is that through a wireless connection, the information provided on the sign could be updated automatically and instantly from a central location.

A little further down the road of the future we might use “augmented reality” devices, such as Google Glass, to provide real time maps, messages, and traffic alerts. Imagine having instant information about a crash that happened just moments ago on the road up ahead so you could slow down or take an alternate route.

9 Road Signs Of The Christian Journey

God has placed road signs along the Christian journey to give us direction, to keep us safe, to warn us, and to keep us on the right path until we reach heaven.

Sign #1 – Stop

One of my least favorite signs is the Stop sign. It means that I have to stop my progress and sit motionless. It is inconvenient but it also keeps me safe.  It protects me from moving into a potentially dangerous situation.

Jesus often commands us to “stop” moving ahead and think about what we are doing. A Stop sign from God is an opportunity to think about what we are doing and consider the consequences.

John 5:14: “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

John 6:43: “Stop grumbling among yourselves.”

John 7:24: “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

John 20:27: “Stop doubting and believe.”

Sign #2 – Yield Right of Way

When driving, the Yield sign means that we must give priority to another person. This bothers us because we all feel that we are more important than anyone else. But God calls us to give priority to Him and to humble ourselves to serve others.

James 4:7: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Ephesians 5:21: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Hebrews 13:17: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority.”

Sign #3 – No U Turn

U-turns can be helpful when we are driving and suddenly realize that we are heading in the wrong direction. But Christians can be tempted to get off the right road and return to the life they left behind. God is pleased when we follow Him by faith and do not give it to doubts. Once we have committed ourselves to God there should be no turning back to our old way of life.

Hebrews 10:38: “And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”

Luke 9:62: Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Philippians 3:13: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…”

Sign #4 – Wrong Way

Freeway on-ramps and one-way streets have large red signs that warn drivers that they are heading for danger if they keep driving in the wrong direction. Even though the road seems safe and the way is open, it will lead to a disastrous accident God’s Word also warns us when we go the right direction, to keep us from harm and danger. We are wise when we obey His warning signs and keep out of a sinful path.

Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

Psalm 119:104: “I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.”

Proverbs 4:14: “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers.”

Sign #5 – Detour

A Detour Road Sign can be the difference between being late to a meeting and being on time. It means that there is road construction or an accident on the road that we intended to take and now we have to find an alternate route.

God often puts a Detour sign on our path. It may be because we are on the wrong road. It might be that God has something different in mind for us than what we had decided to do.

God’s Detour might be a change in career, a change in schools, a delay in the timing of when you expected to start a family, or a sudden illness that puts you on the sidelines. Take courage, God knows what He is doing and His plans are always best for you in the final outcome.

Proverbs 16:9: “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”

Jeremiah 10:23: “I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.”

Acts 16:7: “When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”

Sign #6 – Road Construction

I enjoy newly constructed roads. They are smooth, there are no potholes, the paving is clean and the lane markers are distinct.  But I just don’t like the process of road construction. It seems like it takes CalTrans forever to bulldoze the roadbed, lay the gravel, and pave the road. There are clouds of dust, ruts, and lane changes that slow my drive time.

God is at work in our lives also and the process is messy and slow. We are “under construction” for most of our lives and it seems that it will take forever. Will I ever be the person that God has in mind?

Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 2:13: “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

Sign #7 – Speed Limit

There is a four lane divided road that I drive every day on my way to the church office. It is rarely crowded with traffic and it is feels like 50 miles per hour is appropriate. However, I often see drivers getting tickets from police officers for driving 45-50 miles per hour. They might complain to the officer that their speed was not excessive and seemed appropriate. Why do they get cited? Because there are two schools along this road and there is a speed limit of 35 miles an hour!

In a similar way, God often places speed limits on His people. Often for no apparent reason, God will command us to “slow down”.  But God has a purpose in mind for the delay, that we might not be able to see. Be patient. Trust the plan of God when He asks you to slow down and wait.

Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”

2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Sign # 8 – No Parking

It doesn’t matter if it’s the grocery store, the airport, or an arena, I can never find a parking spot in a convenient place.  If by a miracle I do see an empty space and pull into it, I usually see a sign that says, “No Parking” or “Reserved for the Employee of the Month.” When I want to stop and park, I am obligated to keep going.

The same can be true in the Christian life. There are times when we want to stop and park, when God intends for us to keep moving, to get busy, and to make progress. Keep moving!

Proverbs 6:10-11: “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

Philippians 3:12: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

1 Corinthians 9:24: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Sign #9 – Exit

No matter how long our road trip takes, there eventually comes the sign that we have been waiting for–“Exit.” We feel relief that our journey is over, we have reached our planned destination, and that we can enjoy times of relaxation and refreshment.

One day your earthly journey will be over and God will call you to exit this life. For believers this is not a dreadful thing but a relief. Our long time away is over and we arrive safely at home.

2 Peter 1:13-14: “I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.”

2 Timothy 4:6-7: “the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Watch The Signs

The next time you are driving, pay attention to the road signs. Could God use a simple road sign to give you direction for your journey through life? (Quote source here.)

Isn’t that a great article? I loved finding it as it gives us new meaning when we see these signs along the roadways. And what better way to end this blog post then with these three sign… 

Stop . . .

Yield Right of Way . . .

Exit . . .

YouTube Video: “Traveling Light” by Joel Hanson & Sara Groves:

Photo #1 credit here
Street sign photos here

A Journey Through Time

Sibling rivalry has been around since Cain (the first born son of Adam and Eve in the Genesis account in the Bible) murdered his brother, Abel, in fit of anger (see Genesis 4).

I doubt very much that most sibling rivalries end as tragically as the story of Cain and Abel, but often sibling rivalries in childhood can extent into adulthood, and may even last for a lifetime. I happen to be the middle sibling between two brothers (and the only daughter produced by our parents), and for many of our adult years we have lived in different areas of the country (USA) due, in part, to vocational moves on the part of my older brother and myself. My younger brother still lives where we grew up as children. Our parents divorced back in the mid 1960’s when we were all children, and my older brother went to live with Dad at the age of 15, and me and my younger brother (ages 12 and 9) stayed with Mom. We are all in our 60’s now, and Mom died 35 years ago. Dad is still alive at 94.

According to an article titled, What is Adult Sibling Rivalry?” on WiseGeek, sibling rivalry is described as follows:

Adult sibling rivalry is a sense of competitiveness, aggression, or hurt that often arises between two or more siblings who are of adult age. This can stem from rivalry and issues that siblings felt and experienced in their youth, which often extends into adulthood. Some forms of rivalry can arise during adulthood, though this is typically the result of a particular action rather than an ongoing sense of youthful negativity between two siblings. Adult sibling rivalry can be quite difficult for siblings to move beyond, especially if it is founded in experiences from their youth, though many rivalries lessen or disappear as siblings grow older.

There are two basic ways in which adult sibling rivalry can form: either as a result of conflict the siblings experienced in youth or as new development during adulthood. The childhood of siblings can be one of the most important foundational aspects of their adult lives and relationships. Brothers and sisters who get along as children, do not feel an intense sense of competition, and are both loved and supported equally by their parents, are more likely to develop healthy adult relationships with each other. When the childhood experiences of siblings are filled with abuse or favoritism from parents, then adult sibling rivalry can often develop as brothers and sisters remain in roles with each other similar to those they occupied as children.

Adult sibling rivalry can also arise during adulthood, even between siblings who were otherwise quite close. This often occurs when one sibling gets married, as the change in the person’s life and focus on a new relationship can make a brother or sister feel unimportant or replaced by the spouse. Major slights and offenses between siblings can also result in adult sibling rivalry, such as financial obligations that go unpaid or inappropriate sexual conduct between someone’s sibling and spouse. These types of rivalries can continue for many years, especially if neither sibling is willing to apologize to or forgive the other.

As brothers and sisters grow older, however, there is a tendency for adult sibling rivalry to fade. This is especially true of rivalries that are based on childhood actions and competitiveness. Siblings often remain a constant in the lives of each other; as people grow older and see their kids move away, their parents grow ill or die, and other friends become more distant, there is a strong desire for many people to hold onto whatever consistency remains in their life. An adult sibling rivalry can be forgotten with time, or simply become unimportant when compared to the realities of life and death. (Quote source here.)

My brothers and me before our parents’ divorce.

I can honestly say, despite the rocky relationship between our parents before their divorce when we were kids, that I don’t remember any particular type of sibling rivalry occurring between my two brothers and myself. There were six years between my older brother and my younger brother, and three years between me and each of them, and I was the only girl in the family (except Mom, of course). As I mentioned above, after our parents’ divorce, my older brother went to live with Dad, and me and my younger brother lived with Mom, and life was drastically different after the divorce (which was not all that common back in the 1960’s). A certain stigma was attached to those kids whose parents were divorced back then, too. At the point when my older brother went to live with Dad, our relationship as siblings pretty much ended as he wasn’t around any longer. I was close to my younger brother as we grew up together through high school.

All three of us siblings are very, very different from one another. Both of my brothers married young and each of them had two children. Both ended up divorced, and my older brother remarried. My younger brother is still single. I never married but I was engaged twice but I didn’t follow through with either wedding (I wasn’t in love with either of them), and while I have remained single, it was not by conscious choice. In fact, I’d marry today if the right man came along. But I never wanted to end up like my mother who, after the divorce, had to go out and find work (she married Dad when she was 19 and he was 24, and she was a stay-at-home wife and mother as most women who married were back then). The divorce threw her into the work world with no skills except as a wife and mother, and forced her to try to support me and my younger brother working minimum wage jobs. Also, not long after the divorce she was diagnosed with adult onset diabetes, and over the course of the next 18 years it tore her body apart and she died at the age of 54.

From having lived through that experience, I don’t take marriage lightly. When I was young, I knew I’d rather remain single then to ever find myself in the position my mother found herself in. But it was not on a conscious level that I stayed away from marriage. I always thought I would marry and have children; however, I never wanted to end up like my mom did living off minimum wage jobs and trying to support two of her three children on minimum wages. Some of the places we were forced to live in were real dumps, but it was all she could afford.

On the other side, the divorce was not necessarily kind to my dad either as he struggled financially for a long time until he started his own business when we (my brothers and me) were young adults. This took place during the Vietnam War era when the draft was still in effect. My older brother married at 20 and then soon after enlisted in the Navy to avoid being drafted into the Army. Once his time in the Navy was up he returned back home, moved his wife and daughter to a town with a state university where he completed his bachelor’s degree in engineering (and they had another child–a son), and upon his graduation he found a job in another state where he and his family lived for 20 years. After that time they ended up moving to another state (he and his wife divorced back then, and he remarried) and they have now been there for over 20+ years.

After I got out of high school I worked at an insurance company for two years before I enlisted in the Army on a two-year enlistment they had at that time so I could get the G.I. Bill and go to college. It was the only option I had if I wanted to get a college education. I met a man in the Army when I was stationed overseas who wanted to marry me, and I made plans to marry him once my two-year enlistment was up (he was a “lifer” in the Army and nine years older than me). Long story short, it didn’t work out but I did end up going to college after I got out of the Army on the G.I. Bill. Over the next  few years I earned an Associate in Art (A.A.) degree, then a Bachelor of Arts (B.A. degree), and I worked while I was going to college. When I was 30 I came six weeks short of marrying another guy but I called it off because I knew if I married him it would not last long. In my late 30’s I went back to college and earned a Master of Science (M.S.) degree. A year after I received my M.S. degree I was awarded a one-year doctoral fellowship at a university in Florida, and I ended up staying in Florida after the fellowship year was up, and it lead to the career I had for twenty years working in student services at colleges and universities.

My younger brother stayed in our hometown and still lives in that area. He and his wife married young and had two sons, and then they divorced when their boys were still young. He has never remarried. Because I grew up with my younger brother after our parents’ divorce, I feel an affinity with him that is absent with my older brother because I grew up through my teen years with my younger brother, and my older brother wasn’t around.

Of the two, if there is any sibling friction (I’m not quite sure that’s the right word), it is between my older brother and me. Granted, for all of our adult lives my older brother has lived in other cities and states and we’ve rarely ever seen each other. My older brother has been quite successful in life in business and does not lack for anything. I have been very successful as far as my education goes (although I didn’t complete the doctorate due to financial constraints), and in my career field until I landed in a job in Texas (my last job) that ended seven months after it started and that left me unemployed for years until I was old enough to collect Social Security at 62 to have an income again. I never made a lot of money working in higher education (colleges and universities) but I was never one to go chasing after the “almighty dollar” in life. As long as I had enough to pay the bills and have a few extras, that was fine with me.

Of the three of us, my younger brother has been the one to inherit the health issues of our mother. I hate that for him more then he can possibly know. But he’s a happy-go-lucky sort despite his divorce years ago, and he manages to get by despite his health issues. I suppose I miss him the most of anyone in our family since I still live in another state and he still lives back in the area where we grew up.

My brothers and me when we were in our 20’s

If there is one thing in life that destroys relationships it is divorce. And it is so common today, too. Because divorce is so prolific in our time it has literally changed the fabric of our society. Throw-away and serial relationships are everywhere today, and rare is the couple who is in it for the “long haul.” And the fallout lands on the children. It fractured my family back in the 1960’s.

My older brother tends to view me through the lens of a 16-year-old, but then he was 15 when he left to go live with our dad. All of my education and all the changes I’ve gone through in my life that have made me who I am today disappear when we communicate. He makes me feel like I’m a dumb kid who knows nothing and lost her way in life. And nothing could be farther from the truth just because I landed on hard times after I lost that job nine years ago and I struggle financially because of it. He rarely has anything good to say about me at least when we communicate which is very little because I don’t like being demeaned by a brother I didn’t grow up with or who I have rarely seen during our adult lifetime. He is so sure of himself and so negative when it comes to me. That may sound hard and I don’t mean it to sound that way. But I don’t like communicating with him for those reasons.

My younger brother, on the other hand, has never had anything negative to say to me nor has he ever denegrated me in any way. He might get disgruntled at times (it has to do with family stuff) but he doesn’t view me as an idiot like how I feel when I try communicating with my older brother. I can talk to my younger brother for hours when we do communicate, and we have the same sense of humor. My older brother’s sense of humor tends to be like our dad’s sense of humor (it sometimes has an edge to it).

At 65 I am well aware of just how fast live goes by, and I realize difficult family relationships are everywhere today. Sometimes I think that people who have a lot (materially and financially, I mean) lose sight of the fact that life is short, and it’s not all about money, material possessions, and status. People who make money (or chasing after the “almighty dollar”) their goal in life are often hard to deal with and come off very cold and unfeeling and indifferent to the needs of others not as fortunate as they have been. Maybe that has more to do with any sibling issues between my older brother and me than anything else.

I wish it was different between him and me. I don’t want it to be the way it is, but I can’t change it all by myself either. And we all can use a little kindness in this world of ours. I’ll end this post with these words from Aesop . . .

No act of kindness . . .

No matter how small . . .

Is ever wasted . . . .

YouTube Video: “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw:

Photo #1 credit here
Photos #2 & #3 are mine

The Road Less Traveled

“I shall be telling this with a sigh. Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” ~Robert Frost (Quote source here.)

Those words are written in a poem titled, The Road Not Taken,” published in 1916 by one of America’s most celebrated poets, Robert Frost (1874-1963). The entire poem can be read at this link“About Frost, President John F. Kennedy, at whose inauguration the poet delivered a poem, said, ‘He has bequeathed his nation a body of imperishable verse from which Americans will forever gain joy and understanding’” (quote source here).

Many years later, M. Scott Peck, (1936-2005) an American psychiatrist and best-selling author, wrote the book, The Road Less Traveled,” published in 1978. “Peck began his trek down “The Road Less Traveled” as a Buddhist when he wrote his best selling book by that title. By the time his second book was published [another bestseller titled, People of the Lie,” published in 1983], he claimed a conversion to Christianity. However, his Buddhist teachings remain a vital part of his writings, along with… process theology, Mormonism, New Age doctrine, and the secular humanist values of psychotherapy” (quote source here).

The Road Less Traveled was wildly popular, and Peck “made millions with his first book by advocating self-discipline, restraint, and responsibility–all qualities he openly acknowledged were notably lacking in himself. “The Road Less Traveled” was first published in 1978. It eventually spent 13 years on the New York Times bestseller list to create a paperback record, sold 10 million copies worldwide and was translated into more than 20 languages” (quote source here).

From an interview with Dr. Peck which was published in Psychology Today on November 1, 2002, and titled, M.Scott Peck: Wrestling with God,” by Robert Epstein, PhD., author, editor, and psychology researcher and professor, Epstein writes the following:

Epstein: Most people struggle with issues of spirituality in one form or another. Sometimes they arrive at a place of peace, and sometimes they don’t. Must we go through this struggle, or can you point us to a shortcut?

Peck: I do not think that everybody has to struggle. But to probably at least half of the people, it never seems to enter their minds that they might be engaged in a struggle or that there might be something to struggle with.

One of my shticks is about why we need to do hard scientific research on religion. A study shows that if you ask people whether they believe in God, probably 95 percent of Americans will say they do. And there is nothing particularly great about their mental health. But if you ask them whether they have ever had any personal experience with God, only about 15 to 20 percent will say “yes.” Those few have also been judged as more mentally healthy than the others. And the experience is not necessarily one we choose. Everyone is different, so your spirituality is not going to be my spirituality; your wrestling match is not my wrestling match. But right off the bat, the wrestling match has been a gift of God to you. (Quote source and full interview is available at this link.)

Peck is not without his critics. In an article titled, M. Scott Peck: Traveling Down the Wrong Road,” by H. Wayne House, Research Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Faith Seminary, and Professor of Law, Trinity Law School in Santa Ana, House writes:

While studying world religions at the Friends Seminary, Peck encountered and later embraced Zen Buddhism. This was the beginning of his spiritual journey. Peck remembers himself as a “freakishly religious kid,” but he was not at all taken with Christianity, which he considered mere “gobbledygook.”

His purported conversion to Christianity occurred in 1980 prior to the publication of his second book, “People of the Lie.” He had a nondenominational baptism, and was discipled by a Roman Catholic nun. “I entered Christianity,” he said, “through Christian mysticism. I was a mystic before I was a Christian.” In “People of the Lie” he provides an account of his conversion: “After many years of vague identification with Buddhist and Islamic mysticism, I ultimately made a firm Christian commitment . . . . My commitment to Christianity is the most important thing in my life and is, I hope, pervasive and total”. . . .

Since Peck now says that “Christianity is the most important thing” in his life and is, he hopes, “pervasive and total” within it, it is important to ask what he means by being a Christian. When a patient asked him this soon after his claimed conversion to Christianity, he remarked that at the core of the Christian faith is some “strange concept of sacrifice.”

Even now, more than 15 years after his supposed conversion, Peck admits that he doesn’t know what it means to be a Christian. The best definition he has been able to give is that a Christian is one who “will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter.” The “who” includes just about anyone of any religion, whether Muslim, atheist, or agnostic.

One of Peck’s strengths is his attempt to be honest and open. Certainly this reflects a biblical perspective. The willingness to lay one’s life open to others is commendable—but only when honesty is joined with repentance. The latter is not the case with Peck.

Peck rejects most of the moral standards of biblical Christianity, not to mention even conventional societal standards. He calls himself a “hard-drinking, hard-smoking, hard-swearing” evangelist. He clearly lives up to this reputation, since many believe that he is an alcoholic, and he admits his addiction to cigarettes and “uppers.” He also takes pride in his use of profanity and pornography. Peck also believes that homosexuality reflects God’s love for variety. . . .

M. Scott Peck presents an important challenge to those concerned with defending the Christian faith. Certainly it would be rare for Christian magazines, churches, colleges, counseling centers, and individuals to defend the heretical teachings of a cult. Yet Peck, who shares the same heretical teachings as the cults, has been touted as a hero. This poses a conundrum in the minds of those who are committed to presenting God’s truth. How can we confront the cults when the church embraces a heretic? The fact that Richard Abanes and my recent book is the first major analysis of Peck’s thinking shows that the Christian community has not taken him seriously enough. Certainly I wish for Peck to come to know the Savior, but I also desire for the Christian community to gain spiritual discernment and maintain fidelity to the Word of God. This the Christian community has failed to do by promoting someone who manifests neither the proper understanding of orthodox Christian doctrine nor basic Christian morality. (Quote source here.)

Years ago when “The Road Less Traveled” and Peck’s second book, “People of the Lie,” were published, I read them both. And like most people who read a lot (or even a little), I don’t remember anything in particular about either book. The only thing I remember thinking was that of the two books, I liked “People of the Lie” the best. I didn’t read any of Peck’s later books, but he was definitely an icon in the culture at that time.

In a 2017 article titled, Why I Choose to Take the Road Less Traveled,” by Melissa Dawn, life and business coach, and founder of CEO of Your Life,” she writes:

It’s only by trying new things, pushing your limits, doing things differently that you can truly change your life and get rid of what is blocking you or no longer working for you. Doing things differently makes you stronger.

In my life and business, as in my travels, I like to enjoy the journey. My journey is mine. I will not let people tell me which way to go or how to do it. Even if a path has proven successful to others.

To some, I might be going the “wrong way.” I might be going backwards. I might even be crazy. I do what feels right for me. I connect with my inner voice and let it guide me. I ensure that every thing I do, every step I take, is aligned with my big picture vision, values and heart. My mission is to help as many people as possible do the same. It’s the only way to live a life where you feel good from the inside out.

Sometimes, you start off doing things the way that feels right to you, and end up caving to pressure when everyone else is doing it another way. . . .

I decided to stick to the path I chose. In the end, we had an amazing experience [a recent hiking trip mentioned in the article]. Choosing the ‘wrong’ path [on the hiking trip] was right for me. When your gut, your inner voice, tells you something is right (or wrong), listen to that voice. It’s your instinct. It’s speaking to you for a reason and it knows, better than anyone, what’s best for you. (Quote source here.)

If a person is a Christian, it’s important to listen to what Jesus had to say on the subject. In an article titled, Narrow is the Gate: What Did Jesus Mean?” by Cecil Maranville, retired pastor, on Life, Hope and Truth, he states:

Surprisingly, all but a relatively small number of disciples turned away from Jesus by the end of His ministry. The thousands that once chased our Savior like a celebrity apparently dwindled away to a few hundred after His death (Acts 1:151 Corinthians 15:6). How strikingly different the true picture is from the supposedly easy path to becoming a Christian by just giving your heart to the Lord.

In Matthew 7:13-14 we read of Jesus saying, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

[At this point in the article the author gives several examples of Jesus’ encounters with others that challenges any of his would-be followers to count the cost of what it means to follow him. Near the end of the article is this statement]:

On the surface, it again appears that Christ’s approach seemed illogical, because His words did not entice people to join Him. Clearly, Christ did not want just numbers. However, He wanted all who became His disciples—students or learners and members of the spiritual body called in Scripture “the Church of God” (Acts 20:28)—to make it through to the end. They needed to know that they would encounter the most difficult challenges of their lives. He would have been irresponsible had He failed to prepare the disciples.

By analogy, failing to counsel them on the challenges they would face if they became Christians would be like taking a group of average citizens and sending them on a military mission meant for an expert team such as the U.S. Navy SEALS or the British SAS. Without proper training, the people would not likely survive such a mission. And it would be disastrous for the mission itself. God wants all to achieve their potential, and He wants Christians to understand the serious nature of their commitment to follow Him.

Of course, warnings about the challenge of becoming a Christian is not the only counsel Christ gave. He also promised those who did commit to this way of life, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). The NKJV Study Bible comments, “This quotation is one of the most emphatic statements in the NT. In Greek it contains two double negatives, similar to saying in English, ‘I will never, ever, ever forsake you.’ Jesus uses the same technique to express the certainty of eternal life for believers” (see John 10:28).

You may have heard the military saying “Never leave a man behind!” Similarly, the Father and the Son are fully committed to those who respond to God’s calling. Jesus made a similar promise at the end of Matthew 28:18-20 saying He would never stop being with [genuine followers] at any time throughout the ages. (Quote source here.)

We all choose a path in life. . . .

Which path . . .

Will you choose . . . .

YouTube Video: “Backseat Driver” by TobyMac:

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Traveling Light

For almost four years, I did a lot of traveling by car. It was during the time I was still in a major job search after losing my job in Houston in April 2009. However, the traveling didn’t start until May 2012.

It started with a road trip to Atlanta in May 2012 to check out a couple of universities where I had applied for Student Affairs positions. Previous to this trip, I had been applying for higher education positions all over America since April 2009, and I stopped counting the number of jobs I had applied for in early 2011 when it hit 500. I didn’t want to be discouraged any longer by the number of jobs I had applied for up to that point in time, so I just stopped counting. During the first year and a half of my job search, I came very close to finding another job, but something always stopped it from happening. Even today I’m still at a loss to know what that “something” was after a successful twenty-year career in high education before I lost that job in Houston.

What started me on my road travels was a new set of tires after the original set showed signs of significant wear (bald is a good way to describe them) on my then seven-year-old car. I bought the new tires in April 2012, and they gave me the push I needed to hit the road in search of a job, at least in locations within a few hundred miles of where I was living at that time in Florida.

What I discovered once I started “hitting the road” was just how much I loved driving long distances on the open highway. In the four years starting in April 2012 when I did most of my traveling, I traveled as far north as Washington D.C., and as far west at Houston, Texas; and in October 2015 I drove back to my hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, to attend my youngest nephew’s wedding. I also traveled all around Florida, and including a week long stop near New Orleans to check out a few universities where I had applied for jobs, and another week and a half long trip back to Houston (where I lost my job in April 2009). I liked living in Houston during the year I lived there back in 2008-09 despite the rather dismal job experience.

While I have never found that very elusive job in my career field, I did discover a part of America I was never able to take a really good look at during all of the years I worked. For one thing, I never had the time. However, a long bout with unemployment gives one plenty of time to discover other things, and my love for long road trips was one of those things I discovered.

Since my finances were very limited due to being unemployed, traveling by car was the least expensive way I could travel, and I found that the “journey” getting to any place in particular was more exciting then when I actually arrived at my destination. There is something about the “anticipation” while driving on the open road that trumps, at least for me, the actual end result of arriving somewhere. And I have never felt as free as I do when I’m on the open road driving, but not yet arriving, at my destination.

After I lost my job in Houston in April 2009 and my one-year apartment lease in Houston was up at the end of September 2009, I ended up back in Florida where I had left a year earlier to take that job in Houston. I found a cute little furnished apartment with utilities included in December 2009 that was affordable on what I was receiving from my unemployment benefits, and this apartment was my “base,” so to speak, where I always returned to after my road trips began in May 2012. Unfortunately, the house where my apartment was located was sold in early 2014, and the new owners wanted to use my apartment for their own purposes. So I lost my apartment and my base that I always had available to return to after my road trips.

It’s amazing how a long road trip (if one enjoys long road trips) can take the burdens of life off of one’s shoulders for a while, which is most likely why I loved being on the road more than I liked arriving at my destination. Arriving at my destination meant I had to take those burdens back again, and after several years of looking for work, I was at a total loss as to what to do with that burden since no “door of opportunity” ever opened up to me to find employment.

As a Christian, I was (and I am) aware that the Bible speaks to the issue of our burdens in many verses throughout the Bible, and one verse that comes to mind is Psalm 55:22 that states, Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.” During this time of my lengthy job search and my road trips, I was sure the end result was going to be that I would finally find that very elusive job, and my life would get back to normal again (e.g., career, church, social activities, and having a decent income to live on again–that was my goal). I “cast my burden” on the Lord so many times during this time that I’ve lost count (sort of like how I stopped counting how many jobs I had applied for early on in my job search). 

In hindsight, what I didn’t realize was that my will (my goal) was not necessarily His will for my life (even though as a single, self-supporting woman I saw no other choice in the matter), and during the times when the burden to find another job was really great, which was quite often and almost to the point of being overwhelming, I’d end up taking a road trip, and those road trips turned out to be God’s gift to me in relieving the burden for a while. It was when I was on the road that my burden lifted and I felt free from it and revived again, even though I did not know when my search for a job would finally come to an end.

In a 2013 article titled, How to Cast Your Burdens on the Lord,” by Steve Fuller, lead pastor at Grace Church Abu Dhabi, Steve gives us some great advice regarding our burdens:

A Painful Phone Call

I just finished a phone call with a close friend. He faces problems. Big problems. He’s fearful. Worried. Hurting. He can’t see any good options—any good outcomes—and He doesn’t know what to do. And when I finished the phone call I felt burdened.

What Are Burdens?

We know what burdens feel like. They make our hearts feel heavy—like something is weighing them down. So what causes this? I think it’s usually because we see something painful in our future. And that fear of future pain is a weight—a burden—on our hearts.

Think about your own heart. Are you feeling burdened? If so, identify what pain you are fearing. Maybe it’s the pain of a broken marriage. Or a lost job. Or wayward children. Or poor health.

The reason you are burdened is because you are fearing that pain. But what can we do when we feel burdened?

Good News

Look at what David tells us to do with our burdens in Psalm 55:22“Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Whenever we are burdened, God promises to sustain us and not let us be moved (which means to be shaken or totter). But there is something we must do to receive this promise. We must cast our burden on the Lord.

What Does That Mean?

We often talk about casting our burdens on the Lord. But what does that really mean? After my phone call, when I felt burdened, I quoted this verse. I told the Lord I wanted to cast my burden on him. I asked him to take it. I said I didn’t want it. I asked him to lift it from me. But there was no change. My heart was still burdened. I did not feel the Lord sustaining me.

So what does it mean to cast a burden on the Lord? I went out to the creek trail and prayed about it. And I ended up taking four steps that powerfully helped me.

First, turn to God through Jesus

Don’t just say “it will be fine,” or “it will all work out,” or “God will take care of it.” None of those involve you actually meeting with the Living God. So turn your heart to God Himself. Come to God, cleansed by Christ’s blood and clothed with His righteousness. Turn to God and know that through Christ—he loves you, welcomes you, and promises to help you (Hebrews 4:16).

Second, ask God to keep this painful event from happening

Ask God to save your marriage, keep you employed, save your children, give you good health. To strengthen your faith, think about times when God delivered His people—Israel from Egypt, Joseph from his dungeon, Bartimaeus from his blindness.

Strengthen your faith, and then pray that God would deliver you from this painful event (Psalm 50:15). God may choose to deliver you, which would be a great mercy. But the Bible also teaches that He may not, which is why at this point you probably still feel burdened. So this next step is so crucial.

Third, trust that if He allows this painful event to happen, it’s to bring you more joy in Him.

Your greatest joy is knowing God, beholding God, loving God (Psalm 16:11). And God promises to orchestrate everything—including every pain, sorrow, and trial—to bring you even more joy in Him (Romans 8:182 Corinthians 4:17).

So take time to set your heart on God. Use His Word to help you see His love, majesty, glory, and grace. Use passages like Genesis 1:1Isaiah 6:1-7Mark 15:39Romans 5:1-10. Pray over God’s Word until the Holy Spirit helps you see and feel the all-surpassing worth of God the Father and Jesus the Son.

Now—look at your future. You see that this painful event might happen. But now you also see that if it does, it will mean not just pain, but gain—the gain of more joy in God now and forever. This is when the burden will start to lift—when we see and feel the worth of God, and that all future pain will bring us even more of God.

But there’s one more step to completely remove the burden.

Fourth, trust that if He allows this painful event to happen, He will take care of every need it creates.

He will. He promises. He will provide…

–all the wisdom you need to make tough decisions (James 1:5)

–all the finances you need to fulfill His call on your life (Matthew 6:33)

–all the comfort you need for your heartaches (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

–all the grace you need to keep faithful to Him (2 Corinthians 9:8)

–all the strength you need to persevere (Philippians 4:13)

–all the joy in Him you need to make this all worth it (Romans 8:18)

Pray over these promises until the Holy Spirit strengthens your faith. Pray until you trust that God will take care of your every need.

Cast your burden on the Lord

When you trust— really trust—that He might deliver you from this painful event, or that if He does not, He will bring you even more joy in Him through it, and that He will take care of every need it creates—your burden will be gone, because you’ve cast your burden on the Lord.

That does not mean it will never come back, but when it does, it’s because you’ve stopped trusting His promises. So go back through the steps, and fight the fight of faith until you are once again trusting His promises.

Why keep your burdens?

Understand that whenever you are burdened, God wants to take the burden from you. So don’t keep your burdens. Cast your burdens on the Lord. (Quote source here.)

We all have burdens that come at us from all directions. However, Jesus gave us an invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 when he said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” So . . .

Cast your burden . . .

On the Lord . . .

And He will sustain you . . . .

YouTube Video: “Mercy Came Running” by Phillips, Craig & Dean:

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Let the Journey Begin

What better way to begin my first blog post on my new blog site then to quote from one of my favorite authors, Max Lucado, who “has spent the last 40 years telling the story of God’s grace in books, in pulpits, on broadcasts, on music tours…every chance he gets” (quote source here).
I was fortunate to find this sample reading below from Max Lucado’s book, Let the Journey Begin: God’s Roadmap for New Beginnings (2009) on CBN’s website:

Let the Journey Begin

Preface

DEEP IN EVERY HEART
YOU WILL FIND IT: A LONGING
FOR MEANING, A QUEST FOR PURPOSE.

If you ask the secularists what is the meaning of life they will say, “We don’t know.” At least they might agree that we are developed animals. At worst, rearranged space dust.

What a contrast to God’s vision for life: “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to devote ourselves to the good deeds for which God has designed us” (Eph. 2:10 NEB).

God has placed his hand on your shoulder and said, “You’re something special.”

Untethered by time, he sees us all. In fact, he saw us before we were born.

And he loves what he sees. Flooded by emotion. Overcome by pride, the Star Maker turns to us, one by one, and says, “You are my child. I love you dearly.”

And he loves us forever. Should you ever turn from him and walk away, he has already provided a way back. Nothing can separate you from his love. If you anchor these truths firmly in your heart, you will be ready for whatever you may encounter on the road ahead.

So let the journey begin!

Chapter One

The key question in life is not
“How strong am I?” but rather
“How strong is God?”

Direction for the Road Ahead

OCCUPY YOURSELF WITH THE
NATURE OF GOD, NOT THE SIZE
OF YOUR BICEPS…

That’s what God told Moses to do. Remember the conversation at the burning bush? The tome was set in the first sentence. “Take off you sandals because you are standing on holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). With these eleven words Moses is enrolled in a class on God. Immediately the roles are defined. God is holy. Approaching him on even a quarter-inch of leather is too pompous…. No time is spent convincing Moses what Moses can do, but much time is spent explaining to Moses what God can do.

You and I tend to do the opposite. We could explain to Moses how he is ideally suited to return to Egypt…. Then we’d remind Moses how perfect he is for wilderness travel…. We’d spend time reviewing with Moses his resume and strengths.

But God doesn’t. The strength of Moses is never considered. No pep talk is given, no pats on the backs are offered. Not one word is spoken to recruit Moses. But many words are used to reveal God. The strength of Moses isn’t the issue; the strength of God is.

Nails didn’t hold God to a cross.
Love did.

The Strength of God’s Love

“Can anything make me stop loving you?” God asks. “Watch me speak your language, sleep on your earth, and feel your hurts. Behold the maker of sight and sound as he sneezes, coughs, and blows his nose. You wonder if I understand how you feel? Look into the dancing eyes of the kid in Nazareth; that’s God walking to school. Ponder the toddler at Mary’s table; that’s God spilling his milk.

“You wonder how long my love will last? Find your answer on a splintered cross, on a craggy hill. That’s me you see up there, your maker, your God, nail-stabbed and bleeding. Covered in spit, and sin-soaked. That’s your sin I’m feeling. That’s your death I’m dying. That’s your resurrection I’m living. That’s how much I love you.”

You change your life by changing your heart.

Locked Behind Bars

Think of it this way. Sin put you in prison. Sin locked you behind the bars of guilt and shame and deception and fear. Sin did nothing but shackle you to the wall of misery. Then Jesus came and paid your bail. He served your time; he satisfied the penalty and set you free. Christ died, and when you cast your lot with him, your old self died too.

The only way to be set free from the prison of sin is to serve its penalty. In this case the penalty is death. Someone has to die, either you or a heaven-sent substitute. You cannot leave prison unless there is a death. But that death has occurred at Calvary. And when Jesus died, you died to sins claim on your life. You are free.

“Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ” (Eph. 2:5).

A New Player on Our Team

As youngsters, we neighborhood kids would play street football. The minute we got home from school, we’d drop the books and hit the pavement. The kid across the street had a dad with a great and a strong addiction to football. As soon as he’d pull in the driveway from work we’d start yelling for him to come and play ball. He couldn’t resist. Out of fairness he’d always ask, “Which team is losing?” Then he would join that team, which often seemed to be mine.

His appearance in the huddle changed the whole ball game. He was confident, strong, and most of all, he had a plan. We’d circle around him, and he’d look at us and say, “OK boys, here is what we are going to do.” The other side was groaning before we left the huddle. You see, we not only had a new plan, we had a new leader.

He brought new life to our team. God does precisely the same. We didn’t need a new play; we needed a new plan. We didn’t need to trade positions; we needed a new player. That player is Jesus Christ, God’s firstborn son.

Answer the big question of eternity,
and the little questions of life fall into perspective.

The Applause of Heaven

Truth Will Triumph

Imagine that you are an ice skater in competition. You are in first place with one more round to go, If you perform well, the trophy is yours. You are nervous, anxious, and frightened.

Then, only minutes before your performance, your trainer rushes to you with the thrilling news: “You’ve already won! The judges tabulated the scores, and the person in second place can’t catch you. You are too far ahead.”

Upon hearing that news, how will you feel? Exhilarated!

And how will you skate? Timidly? Cautiously? Of course not. How about courageously and confidently? You bet you will. You will do your best because the prize is yours. You will skate like a champion because that is what you are! You will hear the applause of victory….

The point is clear: the truth will triumph. The Father of truth will win, and the followers of truth will be saved. (Quote source here.)

We’re off to a great start on our journey, don’t you think? I’ll end this post with Jesus’ words found in John 8:32 . . .

Then you will know the truth . . .

And the truth . . .

Will set you free . . . .

YouTube Video: “I Just Need U” by TobyMac:

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