What the Future Holds

“Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.” ~Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, translator, historian, mathematician, and teacher

Nobody really knows what tomorrow holds. As the chorus in a song sung decades ago by Doris Day states, “Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera” (quote source here). And James 4:13-14 (NIV) states: Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” And Jesus stated in Matthew 6:34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

In a May 9, 2018, article titled, America Really Is in The Midst of a Rising Anxiety Epidemic,” by Peter Dockrill, senior writer at ScienceAlert.com, technology columnist for Money Magazine, and former online editor of APC and TechLife, he states:

If you’re feeling stressed, uncertain about what the future holds, or even physically unsafe, try not to panic – you’re definitely not alone.

New survey results show Americans’ anxiety levels experienced a sharp increase in the past year, with almost 40 percent of respondents saying they felt more anxious than they did a year ago.

That’s a pretty big spike – following on the heels of a 36 percent jump between 2016 and 2017 – and it means this year’s national, averagedanxiety score’ has tipped over halfway on a 100-point scale: it’s now sitting at 51, with a five-point increase since 2017.

“This poll shows US adults are increasingly anxious particularly about health, safety, and finances,” says American Psychiatry Association president Anita Everett, whose organization sponsored the survey. “That increased stress and anxiety can significantly impact many aspects of people’s lives, including their mental health, and it can affect families.”

This year Americans reported feeling more anxious across the five key areas of the poll – health, safety, finances, politics, and relationships. Anxiety over finances saw the greatest increase since 2017 levels, with people concerned about having enough money to pay bills and other expenses. But that’s not what worries Americans the most.

The two things causing the most anxiety to people are health (with 68 percent of respondents feeling extreme or somewhat anxious), and keeping themselves or their family safe (68 percent), with finance a close third at 67 percent.

While anxiety over politics and its impacts on daily life is less common, it’s still a source of stress for more than half of Americans (56 percent of respondents). Not that these anxieties can really be broken down into neat, isolated chambers.

Arguably, these fears are often tied to one another, thanks in no small part to today’s 24/7 news cycle and the near-constant digital and social connectivity that frames modern life.

“They seem to parallel the different areas of tension that currently dominate political news and conversation,” psychiatrist and stress researcher Eric Bui from Massachusetts General Hospital told the Boston Herald. “It seems as if there may be a vicious cycle fuelled by these fears, which may drive rigid political stances and in turn fuel further fear.”

The responses, collected from a nationally representative survey of more than 2,000 adults over March and April, didn’t convey a lot of good news about people’s mental states.

Increases in anxiety were common to both men and women, and were seen across people of different race/ethnicity and of different ages. While Millennials are more anxious than older people, Baby Boomers saw the biggest age-related spike in anxiety, with a seven-point jump over 2017 figures.

And it seems we can’t even find solace in family, friends and co-workers – almost half (48 percent) of those surveyed reported feeling anxiety about their relationships.

Sadly, there’s no quick fix for any of this, of course. And while Everett counsels the importance of attempts to reduce stress – such as regular exercise, relaxation, healthy eating, and time with friends and family – it’s clear that external factors outside people’s control are a big contributor to this surge in negative feeling.

Whether it’s political upheavalphysical vulnerability, or the ever-clearer prospects of a looming environmental catastrophe, there are just so many factors that can induce our apprehension, and there’s no easy off switch we can reach for.

“We are wired to sense and react to threat,” psychiatrist John Sargent from Tufts Medical Centre told the Boston Herald“These are things that, in fact, you can’t control by an immediate action.”

But what is most striking is the single highest source of extreme anxiety in the 2018 resultsA stunning 36 percent of respondents reported that they felt extremely anxious about keeping themselves or their family safe.

When more than one in three people say they feel that way, you know there’s a lot of work to do. The survey results are available at APA’s website. (Quote source here.)

That’s a lot of anxiety floating around today in America. Is it just a coincidence that as anxiety is increasing in America that it coincides with the fact that Americans as a whole are becoming less religious and more secular in their beliefs?

In an article published April 22, 2016, titled, The World’s Newest Religion: No Religion,” by Gabe Bullard, journalist and deputy director for digital news at National Geographic, he states:

The religiously unaffiliated, called Nones,” are growing significantly. They are the second largest religious group in North America and most of Europe. In the United States,Nones” make up almost a quarter of the population. In the past decade, U.S. “Nones” have overtaken Catholics, mainline protestants, and all followers of non-Christian faiths.

A lack of religious affiliation has profound effects on how people think about deathhow they teach their kids, and even how they vote.

There have long been predictions that religion would fade from relevancy as the world modernizes, but all the recent surveys are finding that it’s happening startlingly fast. France will have a majority secular population soon. So will the Netherlands and New Zealand. The United Kingdom and Australia will soon lose Christian majorities. Religion is rapidly becoming less important than it’s ever been, even to people who live in countries where faith has affected everything from rulers to borders to architecture.

But “Nones” aren’t inheriting the Earth just yet. In many parts of the world—sub-Saharan Africa in particular—religion is growing so fast that Nones’ share of the global population will actually shrink in 25 years as the world turns into what one researcher has described as “the secularizing West and the rapidly growing rest.” (The other highly secular part of the world is China, where the Cultural Revolution tamped down religion for decades, while in some former Communist countries, religion is on the increase)….

Within the ranks of the unaffiliated, divisions run deep. Some are avowed atheists. Others are agnostic. And many more simply don’t care to state a preference. Organized around skepticism toward organizations and united by a common belief that they do not believe, “Nones” as a group are just as internally complex as many religions. And as with religions, these internal contradictions could keep new followers away. (Quote source and entire article here.)

So then, what if a genuine cure for all of this increasing anxiety is actually found in Bible (for example, see Matthew 6:25-34)? In an article dated October 19, 2015, titled, Use Anxiety to Your Advantage,” by Vince Miller, founder of Resolute, and guest contributor on desiringGod.org, he states that Jesus shifts our focus off of what is causing us to be anxious by placing it back onto Him (see Matthew 6:25-34):

[Jesus asks] “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27). The minutes, hours, days, or even years we expend being anxious amount to wasted, stolen time. Concerns about natural things regarding our bodies, health, retirement funds, the imminent political race, and ISIS are matters for God. He will be concerned about them because he cares for you, and wants to guide you into living a fruitful and productive life….

In Matthew 6:30, after continuing to prove the care and love of God, Jesus calls out our anxiety by saying, “O you of little faith.” The hard truth is that when we are anxious, we demonstrate lack of faith. We don’t trust God and instead take control, somehow believing we can take better care of our lives than God. It’s as if we say to the Creator of the universe, “I don’t need you, because I have to figure this out.” Then our hearts and minds circle and spin like hamsters on a treadmill. But we are worth more. Even when the situation seems unbearable, we can trust God.

We can go to him with our worries, even when our hearts feel unsettled about our marriages, children, jobs, retirement, health care, and so on. Even when we doubt, we can acknowledge our sin. Faith turns to God and accepts what’s been given, asking him to use whatever circumstance we encounter for his good and glory, and to refine us into his image.

Then, near the end of the passage, Jesus calls us to change our hearts by shifting focus. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). He tells us to move our minds from the worries of this life to issues of greater importance, to shift our focus to eternal values.

Breathe. Trust. Transfer your anxiety to God and place your concern where it belongs: on the things of God.

It is difficult to practice, but this is the road to supernatural living. When the mind is focused on what God is concerned about, anxieties dissipate, and God provides us with what we need. (Quote source here.)

Given all our anxieties about tomorrow, even our best laid plans can change. For example, during World War II, Hitler thought he would rule the world (he didn’t and ended up committing suicide). President Kennedy was making plans to get reelected in 1964, but he was assassinated in his prime in 1963. We don’t know about tomorrow; we only have today. And Jesus said that today has enough trouble of its own.

There’s a quote by Helen Steiner Rice (1900-1981) that states, Never borrow sorrow from tomorrow.” That’s still good advice.

I’ll end this post with these words from Proverbs 3:5-6Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding….

In all your ways . . .

Acknowledge Him . . .

And He shall direct your paths . . . .

YouTube Video: “Let God Be God” by Phillips, Craig & Dean:

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The Next Journey

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” ~Anna Quindlen, novelist and journalist

I get on reading jags from time to time and I’m on one right now. It started when I found a hardcover copy of Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Jesus (2013) for $3 a few days ago in a discount bookstore (the coauthor is Martin Dugard). The cultural background and history was so rich and descriptive that I couldn’t stop reading it until I was done. Bill O’Reilly, journalist, New York Times bestselling author, political commentator, and former television host, and Martin Dugard, also a New York Times bestselling author, have teamed up to write several books in the Killing Series,” starting with Killing Lincoln published in 2011.

As soon as I finished “Killing Jesus” I went back to that discount bookstore to see what other books they had in the “Killing Series.” They had three–Killing Lincoln,” “Killing Reagan,” and Killing Kennedy,” so I picked “Killing Kennedy” (2012) since I was a young girl of eleven at the time President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX, in November 1963. I’m now 2/3rds of the way through that book, and it has been a riveting read. I’m sure there are more “Killing Series” books in my future… 🙂

Since the theme of this blog is about journeys, and as the Anne Quindlen quote at the top of this post states, reading a good book is like going on a journey, and one doesn’t even have to leave home to do it, either, thanks to Kindles and Nooks and other tablets one can download digital copies of books onto nowadays. However, I still prefer holding a real book in my hand, and one of my favorite things to do is wander through bookstores. You have no idea how sad I was when Borders went bankrupt back in 2011 (see article titled, Why Borders Failed While Barnes & Nobles Survived dated July 19, 2011, at this link). It was my very favorite bookstore at that time.

For three days this past week I spent time walking through the countryside around Jerusalem and on streets that Jesus walked on in “Killing Jesus,” and I experienced the political and religious intrigue of his day, too. And for the past two days I’ve gone back in time to the early 1960’s with all of the hotbed issues that President Kennedy had to deal with before his assassination in November 1963. If you’re old enough, do you remember the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962? I was ten at the time it occurred and I had no idea how really serious it was until I read about it in “Killing Kennedy.” I do remember the air raid drills we endured at my elementary school when we had to crawl under our desks (as if that would save anyone from a thermonuclear war) when the sirens went off during the drills.

There is nothing quite like getting lost in a good book. And, it’s good for you, too. Just take a look at these 5 Ways Reading Improves Your Health,” published in 2014 by The Book Insider:

Book lovers know there’s no feeling like getting lost in a great book. Page after page seems to fly by as you get more and more entrenched in the plot and character development. It’s almost as if you’re in the scenes and participating in the outcome. What you may not realize, however, is this activity is not only fun, but also great for your health! Check out these five surprising health benefits of reading.

1) Reduced Stress

When you get caught up in a great book and all your thoughts are consumed by the plot and characters, it seems like your everyday worries and stresses disappear. Not only does it seem that way, but it’s actually a proven fact! This 2009 study proves that reading for only six minutes can reduce stress by 68 percent, as well as slow your heart rate and minimize muscle tension. After a stressful day at work, instead of turning on the television, crack open a great book or fire up the Kindle in order to relax.

2) Improved Memory

Okay, maybe this one isn’t too surprising. Just like your muscles, your brain loves a good workout too. Reading regularly exercises your noggin, and all those synapses firing can actually improve your memory. In addition, a recent study showed that elderly people who read regularly are 2.5 times less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease.

3) Younger Brain

Of course we can’t stop the aging process (as much as we’d like to), but reading can help slow it down. This study showed that reading can significantly reduce your rate of cognitive decline. So curl up with a good book each night if you want to keep that brain young and spry.

4) Increased Empathy

Who knew that reading books could make you a nicer person? Apparently getting emotionally absorbed in a book carries over into real life. This study found that people who regularly immerse themselves in fictional stories are more empathetic. Even though the characters are fictional, relating to their situations causes us to be more open to real people in our lives.

5) Increased Tolerance for Uncertainty

Let’s be honest, all of us have struggled with ambiguity or lack of control in personal situations in the past. It can be stressful not knowing the future. Surprisingly, one easy way to cope is to read more. One study showed that reading fiction can cause an increase in tolerance for uncertainty. As people dive deeper and deeper into fictional stories and characters, their minds actually open up, and they become more comfortable with possibilities, options, and uncertainty.

Everyone knows reading is fun, but the benefits outlined above can really improve your health and life. If you’re reading a lot already, good for you! And if you’re not, try to find more time to read if you can. One thing you’ll need for sure is…LOTS OF BOOKS! (Quote source here.)

How about that for good news! And to reinforce what has been written above, in another article titled, 8 Science-Backed Reasons to Read a (Real) Book,” by Abigail Wise, editor and writer, you’ll find out why real books are better for you than e-books:

Bookworms can see some serious perks to their health and happiness. Want to really reap the benefits of reading? Reach for an old-fashioned, printed book.

Although more and more people own e-books, it seems safe to say that real books aren’t going anywhere yet. Eighty-eight percent of the Americans who read e-books continue to read printed ones as well. And while we’re all for the convenience of digital downloads and a lighter load, we can’t bring ourselves to part with the joy of a good, old-fashioned read.

There’s nothing like the smell of old books or the crack of a new one’s spine. (Plus, you’ll never run low on battery.) And it turns out that diving into a page-turner can also offer benefits toward your health and happiness. Here are eight smart reasons to read a real book.

It increases intelligence.

As Dr. Seuss once wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Diving into a good book opens up a whole world of knowledge starting from a very young age. Children’s books expose kids to 50 percent more words than prime time TV, or even a conversation between college graduates, according to a paper from the University of California, Berkeley. Exposure to that new vocabulary not only leads to higher score on reading tests, but also higher scores on general tests of intelligence. Plus, stronger early reading skills may mean higher intelligence later in life.

A quick tip: If you’re looking for a power read, opt for a traditional book. Research suggests that reading on a screen can slow you down by as much as 20 to 30 percent.

Plus, it can boost your brain power.

Not only does regular reading help make you smarter, but it can actually increase your brain power. Just like going for a jog exercises your cardiovascular system, reading regularly improves memory function by giving your brain a good work out. With age comes a decline in memory and brain function, but regular reading may help slow the process, keeping minds sharper longer, according to research published in Neurology. Frequent brain exercise was able to lower mental decline by 32 percent, reports The Huffington Post.

Reading can make you more empathetic.

Getting lost in a good read can make it easier for you to relate to others. Literary fiction, specifically, has the power to help its readers understand what others are thinking by reading other people’s emotions, according to research published in Science. The impact is much more significant on those who read literary fiction as opposed to those who read nonfiction. “Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies,” David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano wrote of their findings.

Flipping pages can help you understand what you’re reading.

When it comes to actually remembering what you’re reading, you’re better off going with a book than you are an e-book. The feel of paper pages under your fingertips provides your brain with some context, which can lead to a deeper understanding and better comprehension of the subject you’re reading about, Wired reports. So to reap the benefits of a good read, opt for the kind with physical pages.

It may help fight Alzheimer’s disease.

Reading puts your brain to work, and that’s a very good thing. Those who who engage their brains through activities such as reading, chess, or puzzles could be 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who spend their down time on less stimulating activities. The paper suggests that exercising the brain may help because inactivity increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, inactivity is actually an early indicator of the disease, or a little of each.

Reading can help you relax.

There’s a reason snuggling up with a good book (and maybe a glass of wine) after a long day sounds so appealing. Research suggests that reading can work as a serious stress-buster. One 2009 study by Sussex University researchers showed that reading may reduce stress by as much as 68 percent. “It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination,” cognitive neuropsychologist David Lewis​ told The Telegraph.

Reading before bed can help you sleep.

Creating a bedtime ritual, like reading before bed, signals to your body that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep, according to the Mayo Clinic. Reading a real book helps you relax more than zoning out in front of a screen before bed. Screens like e-readers and tablets can actually keep you awake longer and even hurt your sleep. That applies to kids too: Fifty-four percent of children sleep near a small screen, and clock 20 fewer minutes of shut-eye on average because of it, according to research published in Pediatrics. So reach for the literal page-turners before switching off the light.

Reading is contagious.

Seventy-five percent of parents wish their children would read more for fun, and those who want to encourage their children to become bookworms can start by reading out loud at home. While most parents stop reading out loud after their children learn to do it on their own, a new report from Scholastic suggests that reading out loud to kids throughout their elementary school years may inspire them to become frequent readers—meaning kids who read five to seven days per week for fun. More than 40 percent of frequent readers ages six through 10 were read to out loud at home, but only 13 percent of those who did not read often for fun were. Translation? Story time offers a good way to spark an interest in the hobby. (Quote source here.)

If you don’t have the money to travel or to buy an airplane ticket (I know the feeling), or the time to get away from the stresses of life, get lost in a good book, and improve your health while you’re at it. 🙂 As for me, right now I need to get back and finish reading “Killing Kennedy.” It may be “The End of Camelot,” but it’s a road to better health, too!

So if you’re looking for a journey . . .

Find your next journey . . .

In a book . . . .

YouTube Video: It’s hard to find a song about reading, so instead, here’s “Happy” by Pharrell Williams:

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Photo #2 credit here

If I Could Travel Around the World

“Travel makes one modest; you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” ~Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880), French novelist

It took the words from a young woman named Gabreilla Faddool to express how I feel about traveling the world. If she doesn’t mind, I’ll share her words with you from her article on The OdysseyOnline.com titled, If I Could Travel Around the World–For Free (Wouldn’t this really be awesome?)”:

If I could travel around the world for free, I would:

  • Go somewhere I have never been to: I would go to Paris or Hawaii and just relax. I would not think of the supposed problems around me, and just enjoy myself.
  • Go back to somewhere I have been to: I would go to London or Dubai, since I enjoyed visiting both places. [I’d love to see both since I haven’t actually been to either]
  • Just travel for no reason at all: Assuming that I would have more money to spend, I would just travel.
  • Travel with the person I love: In the near future, if I do fall in love, I would travel with the person I love. We would go places, especially the romantic ones.
  • Travel and live where I wanted: I would travel and live where I wanted. The rest you probably know.
  • Travel and just buy expensive chocolate and ice cream: I would travel and buy my two most favorite comfort foods, plus cake and Milano cookies. [Cake and Milano cookies sound good to me!]
  • Travel and meet my role models or those who had a huge impact on my life.
  • Take my dog on every trip. [YES, but I have to get a dog first]
  • Travel and elope with someone (whoever that is) LOL.
  • Travel and take care of the needy, build and develop their neighborhoods/villages.
  • Travel and learn a new language by living with the people: I think it would be easier than just listening to audio CD’s.
  • Travel on a world round trip until I am tired. [I don’t think I’d ever get tired]

It would be so much fun to travel the world for free. I would make a lot of memories, and I would not have to struggle putting money together for it. It is too good to be true, but it would be really awesome. (Quote source here.)

It would be really awesome, indeed! 🙂 Three of the places at the top of my list are (1) New York City, (2) Paris, France, and (3) Israel. And while we’re on the topic of traveling, we should also think about traveling light. In fact, here are some encouraging words from Max Lucado on how to do just that from his book Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Meant to Bear,” taken from Chapter 1 titled, The Luggage of Life:

I don’t know how to travel light. But I need to learn. Denalyn [his wife] refuses to give birth to any more children even though the airlines allow each passenger three checked bags and two carry-ons. 

I need to learn to travel light. 

You’re wondering why I can’t. Loosen up! you’re thinking. You can’t enjoy a journey carrying so much stuff. Why don’t you just drop all that luggage? 

Funny you should ask. I’d like to inquire the same of you. Haven’t you been known to pick up a few bags? 

Odds are, you did this morning. Somewhere between the first step on the floor and the last step out the door, you grabbed some luggage. You stepped over to the baggage carousel and loaded up. Don’t remember doing so? That’s because you did it without thinking. Don’t remember seeing a baggage terminal? That’s because the carousel is not the one in the airport; it’s the one in the mind. And the bags we grab are not made of leather; they’re made of burdens. 

The suitcase of guilt. A sack of discontent. You drape a duffel bag of weariness on one shoulder and a hanging bag of grief on the other. Add on a backpack of doubt, an overnight bag of loneliness, and a trunk of fear. Pretty soon you’re pulling more stuff than a skycap. No wonder you’re so tired at the end of the day. Lugging luggage is exhausting. 

What you were saying to me, God is saying to you, “Set that stuff down! You’re carrying burdens you don’t need to bear.” 

“Come to me,” he invites, “all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28, NLT).

If we let him, God will lighten our loads … but how do we let him? May I invite an old friend to show us? The Twenty-third Psalm.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. (Psalm 23, NKJV)

Do more beloved words exist? Framed and hung in hospital halls, scratched on prison walls, quoted by the young, and whispered by the dying. In these lines sailors have found a harbor, the frightened have found a father, and strugglers have found a friend. 

And because the passage is so deeply loved, it is widely known. Can you find ears on which these words have never fallen? Set to music in a hundred songs, translated into a thousand tongues, domiciled in a million hearts. 

One of those hearts might be yours. What kinship do you feel with these words? Where do the verses transport you? To a fireside? Bedside? Graveside? 

Hardly a week passes that I don’t turn to them. This passage is to the minister what balm is to the physician. I recently applied them to the heart of a dear friend. Summoned to his house with the words “The doctors aren’t giving him more than a few days,” I looked at him and understood. Face pale. Lips stretched and parched. Skin draping between bones like old umbrella cloth between spokes. The cancer had taken so much: his appetite, his strength, his days. But the cancer hadn’t touched his faith. Pulling a chair to his bed and squeezing his hand, I whispered, “Bill, ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.'” He rolled his head toward me as if to welcome the words. 

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” 

Reaching the fourth verse, fearful that he might not hear, I leaned forward until I was a couple of inches from his ear and said, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” 

He didn’t open his eyes, but he arched his brows. He didn’t speak, but his thin fingers curled around mine, and I wondered if the Lord was helping him set down some luggage, the fear of dying. 

Do you have some luggage of your own? Do you think God might use David’s psalm to lighten your load? Traveling light means trusting God with the burdens you were never intended to bear. (Quote source here.)

So we can lighten the load, drop the burdens, and travel light as we travel the world! Sounds like a great combination to me. I’m ready for a new journey in life. How about you?

Karla Hawkins mentions the following in her article titled, Top 7 Bible Verses For A New Journey,” on Patheos.com:

A new journey in life is often the beginning of new and exciting adventures. It may include traveling to other places, and it is an opportunity for a fresh start.  Journeys usually require planning, and it begins with the first step–sometimes not a physical step but a step of faith that occurs when we overcome what may be stopping us from fulfilling our destiny. (Quote source here.)

Taking a step of faith is often the point at which a new journey begins. Karla mentions in her article the story of the Israelites who had been enslaved for 400 years in Egypt. They were finally freed from their slavery, and they were in the desert after leaving Egypt and starting on a new journey and a fresh time in their lives and in their history. I’ll end this post with two of the seven verses from Karla’s article found in Judges 18:5-6, ESVAnd they [the Israelites] said to him [the priest], “Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether the journey on which we are setting out will succeed.” And the priest said to them . . .

Go in peace . . .

The journey on which you go . . .

Is under the eye of the Lord . . .

YouTube Video: “Tell the World” by Lecrae feat. Mali Music:

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Photo #2 credit here

Journeys Not Yet Taken

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” ~George Eliot, 19th Century English novelist (whose real name was Mary Ann Evans)

One never really knows where life might lead them. We can make our plans, and things can look pretty predictable for a while, maybe even a very long time, but one never knows when circumstances might lead them in a totally different direction then they ever thought they might end up going in.

In 2013, Vic Johnson, former founder of a corporate and political communications firm, motivational speaker and author, published a book titled, It’s NEVER Too Late And You’re NEVER Too Old: 50 People Who Found Success After 50.” While I haven’t read the book, I love the title, and if I find a copy of it on sale somewhere, I’m going to buy it. Goodreads gives this brief description of the book:

One of the biggest hurdles people over 50 have to overcome is the mindset about their age. There’s an old cliché of “age ain’t nothin’ but a number.” But as we all know, getting older does have certain obstacles such as dwindling health, limited income, and the end of long-time careers followed by “now what in the heck do I do?”

Yes, age is the number of candles on a birthday cake, and a stark reality of things to come. But getting older isn’t…

…a deal breaker.

…a reason you can’t start a business or any other new venture.

…a limit on success.

…a valid excuse for inaction.

…a valid excuse to give up on your dreams.

Here are 50 people who overcame the very same things you are facing right now. Let them show you the way to outrageous success and happiness regardless of your age or circumstances). (Quote source here.) You’ll have to get the book to read the stories… 🙂

Truth is . . . nobody really knows what tomorrow holds whether you’re 8 or 80 or older. As the saying goes, life could turn on a dime tomorrow. And our journey could take us to the most unexpected places, no matter how old we may be.

In an article titled, 10 Reasons It’s Never Too Late to Be Who You Want to Be,” by Dr. Nikki Martinez, PsyD, LCPC, adjunct professor, consultant, and author, published in June 2017 in HuffPost, she states the following:

I can’t even explain how many people think that their dreams have passed then by. That it is too late for them to go back to school, start a business, or pursue that unique interest of theirs. The truth of the matter is that we are never too old, it is just the story and timeline we have given ourselves. We have told ourselves that certain things need to happen by a certain age, or they will never happen for us. Nothing can be further from the truth, we can choose and make our destiny at any time. Here are some inspirational stories who understand that age is merely a number, and it is never too late to accomplish them dream.

1. At 40, Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run. This was not mere luck of years of playing. This was talent, developed through many hours and many years of practice. He had a passion for something, and he kept at it until he became at the top of his field.

2. At 49, Julia Child FINALLY published her book, “Mastering the French Art of Cooking.” Anyone familiar with the life and story of Julia Child’s know that she spent MANY years writing and re-writing, being rejected, looking for her place, and then FINALLY someone saw in her what had been there all along. Although it did not come until the second half of her life, she became one of the most beloved and respected chefs of our lifetime.

3. At Age 60, George Bernard Shaw finished writing, “Heartbreak House.” This was considered by many to be the greatest work of his career, but it took almost his entire career to come up with the right combination that resonated with people. Imagine working your whole life to finally come into your own? It was clearly possible.

4. At age 72, Margaret Ringenberg made a flight around the globe. While this may not be a common name, it is a very uncommon accomplishment. To have wanted something for so long, to have waited so many year, and to say I will not give up on this dream due to a simple matter of age.

5. At age 77, yes you heard this right 77, John Glenn became the oldest astronaut to ever go into space. Something about this just leaves me in awe. When I think of the training, the physicality, the mental abilities, and the sheer drive to do something in your lifetime, I am continually impressed that he was able to accomplish this. Something that many would never be able to do.

6. At age 86, Katherine Pelton swam the 200 meter butterfly (a stroke I struggle with period), in 1 minute and 14 seconds. Do the words astounding come to mind? Something that many of us could not achieve, something that  many of us tell ourselves we cannot more importantly. She is living proof that we can accomplish great things with practice and perseverance.

7. At age 92, Paul Spangler finished his 14th marathon! One is an accomplishment, 14 a great feat for anyone, but for a 92-year-old man to be out there keeping up with the most elite, and those training, what is our excuse for not getting up and working out in the morning. It takes a little steam out of all the excuses, the snoozes, and the tomorrows.

8. Dorothy Davenhill Hirsch became the oldest person the North Pole aboard a Russian Nuclear ice breaker. Talk about refusing to leave something off the bucket list. That is amazing. Something many of us will never achieve in our lifetimes, she MADE happen. This is not to say we cannot make these things happen for ourselves, it is just that we choose not to. Look what choosing and perseverance get you!

9. Dr. Leila Denmark worked as a pediatrician until her chosen retirement at the age of 103. Talk about loving what you do. A perfect example of when you love what you do, it is not a chore, it is a joy. One that you want to do as long as you are able. I think we all hope to find a calling like that!

10. Talk about a lifelong goal realized! Bertha Wood, born in 1905, dreamed her whole life of writing and publishing a book. This dream was finally realized in 2005, and was based on her memoirs. I suppose there was a great deal to be said in the 90 years it took her to write it!

The common thread of all these individuals is persistence, belief in self, and not putting time limits, age limits, or any type of constraint upon themselves. They simply decided they had a goal they were going to accomplish, and they kept trying until they had. It shows that all of us that it is never too late to do what we want to do, and be who we want to be. (Quote source here.)

So how about that, folks! Persistence and perseverance, and lets not forget hope! James 1:2-8 gives us some very good instruction about perseverance:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

So ask . . . and believe. And don’t doubt . . . ever. Right before Jesus told the parable about the persistent widow and the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8, his very first words to his disciples were that they should always pray and not give up (verse 1). That goes for us today, too.

So if you’re reading this, you’re not dead yet . . . 🙂 And if you’re not dead yet, you never know what the future holds regardless of your current circumstances, regardless of your age, and regardless of any other circumstances you want to use as an excuse. Trust God and pray. Now would be a good time! As the Apostle Paul wrote from a prison cell, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phillipians 4:13), so we, too, can do the same . . . .

So always pray . . .

And never give up, never give up . . .

Never give up . . . .

YouTube Video: “Miracle” by Unspoken:

Photo #1 credit here (incredible 11-minute YouTube video at this link):

Photo #2 credit here