Love is the Journey

“Love never fails.” ~The Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:8

Love is a word we throw around a lot, but what does it actually mean? I found the following explanation on Quora.com in answer to the question, What is the real meaning of love in today’s world?” It is given by Preetham Krishna from Amalapuram, Andhra Pradesh, India:

What is love?

This is a heavily debated topic. People often try to define love in terms of romantic euphoria; however, the word “love” generally is used so loosely that its meaning can become diluted. The truth is, “love” often is used to describe other emotions or strong feelings. Using the word “love” just saves us the trouble of having to figure out what we’re actually feeling. We can say we “love” anything, but what does love really mean to us?

Let’s take a look at the various ways that we label “love.”

1. I LOVE chocolate.
This is “food tastes yummy” love. When we eat something that tastes overwhelmingly good, we get a physical and emotional satisfaction and that keeps us present as we eat. Food could be love of a sort, but chocolate won’t text to say it misses me during the day.

2. I LOVE this song.
This is auditory love. These sounds and melodies bring us back emotionally to significant memories in our lives. Music is sort of like a bookmark that opens an emotional portal to our past. Music can also be emotional in the present and help us feel or release emotions. Though music can be very moving, I don’t really want to talk about my day to my iPod.

3. I LOVE your shirt.
This is visual love. We see something that resonates with us and we relate to it and enjoy it — somewhat like a painting or a nice view. We  may become emotionally moved by something we see. I certainly enjoy a beautiful view, but I can’t bring it with me to the movies.

4. I LOVE my new iPhone. 
This is the world’s newest love — “techno-love.” This is the feeling of comfort, excitement, and convenience when we can be connected to our friends, email, Facebook, games, music, etc., all in one little electronic object that fits in our pockets. We sometimes develop  attachments to these gadgets because of what they give to us. I enjoy my phone, too, but when I need a hug the phone can only do so much.

5. I LOVE the smell of chocolate chip cookies.
This is the olfactory love (or love of scents). It also includes things such as perfume, cologne, pizza, freshly baked bread, etc. Our senses of taste and smell are attached. Scents can be comforting and relaxing, and may also be an emotional portal to the past. While I love the smell of cookies, I can’t have a meaningful conversation with the smell of cookies.

6. I LOVE (insert sports team here). 
This is vicarious love. It also includes TV shows and anything else that involves a bit of fantasy. These bring us entertainment, but we also develop attachments and a “rooting” factor. We begin to identify with players or characters or the story lines or competition, and it attracts us with great anticipation and excitement over what’s going to  happen next. There’s often a part of us that wants to be in the shoes of the people we’re watching, living in the roles they play and having an impact on the outcome. Sports and TV are wonderful entertainment; however, it’s hard to imagine making love with a TV.

7. I LOVE my mother.
Family love is the care, comfort, bond, and other emotions that we feel with family members. It’s a different form of attachment from love with a significant other, even though there are many similar properties. Family love undoubtedly is important in our lives, but most likely we won’t be sharing any romantic dinners with our mothers.

8. I LOVE YOU! 
This is the love we search for in a partner — romantic love. This love often is sensationalized in movies and in real life (and is somewhat understood to be the “original” love), but these attachments still can be very strong and real. There is a pretty deep psychology to what romantic love actually is and where it comes from (and, as always,  it’s debatable). But either way, this is the love where we feel we’ve found a partner we want to share our lives with. This love makes us go the extra mile to make the other feel special and cared for, while we hope to receive mutual caring and sharing. Going the extra mile doesn’t only mean doing something special for the other, but it’s also accepting the other for who they are, including their positive characteristics as well as their limitations.

These examples aren’t advocating for saving the word “love” only for situations involving romantic love, but understanding our personal definition of love is important for finding romance and relationships. We often go from one relationship to another, not understanding what our needs and values are. If we become more attuned to ourselves and gain a  deeper understanding of what it is that draws us to something, or someone, we’ll have that much more of a chance of finding what we’re looking for. (Quote source here.)

Omar C. Garcia, Missions Pastor at Kingsland Baptist Church, states the following on the subject of love in his blog, BibleTeachingNotes.com, on the best known chapter in the Bible on love found in 1 Corinthians 13:

Who has defined the word “love” for you? There is a lot being said about love these days and you have to be careful who you listen to or you might get the wrong idea about the meaning of love. While musicians and poets attempt to describe and define love in its many splendored forms, no writer deals with the matter of love as musically and poetically as the Apostle Paul. Nowhere else in all of literature, either sacred or secular, will you find the meaning of love more beautifully expressed than in 1 Corinthians 13. The 13th Chapter of 1 Corinthians is like a prism. When a beam of light is passed through a prism, it comes out on the opposite side broken up into its component colors…red, yellow, violet, orange, and all the colors of the rainbow. So it is in 1 Corinthians 13.

We must keep in mind two very important things as we look at this chapter:

First, remember that Scripture was not written in a vacuum. We find this great chapter on love included in a serious letter by Paul to the church in Corinth…a church with very serious problems. In this letter, Paul painted for the Corinthians a picture of themselves…in their factions, their jealousies, their vanity, their carnality, their misuse of Christian liberty, and their bragging about their spiritual gifts. In the thirteenth chapter of this letter, Paul momentarily turned aside from his direct counsels and rebukes to show the Corinthians an ideal Christian life, which was pretty much everything theirs was not.

Second, we must remember that, unlike our language, the Greeks had several words for love. The word “eros” was used to refer to love of deep desire, passionate and sensuous longing. It had a physical and sexual connotation and is nowhere used in the New Testament. The word “storge” referred to the kind of affection found in a family. The word “philia” was used to refer to brotherly love. Finally, the word “agape” was used to express the unconditional kind of love that God expressed toward us through Christ. It implies loving when there is nothing worthy to evoke love. This is the word Paul used in this chapter. [Garcia breaks down the chapter as follows]:

Love is Indispensable or All-Important: 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (full explanation is available here).

Love is Invincible or All-Enduring: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (full explanation is available here).

Love is Immortal or All-Outlasting: 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 (full explanation is available here).

Garcia then states the following practical considerations:

We should evaluate our understanding of love in the light of Scripture.

In view of the many things that we hear about love in our world today, we should evaluate our understanding of love in the light of Scripture. Love is certainly not what many of the songs and movies of our day make it to be.

Ministry, miracles, and martyrdom are meaningless without love.

We must be certain that our actions are motivated by love. We must guard against doing things for selfish and self-glorifying ends.

There is a difference between love and lust.

It would be profitable to read 1 Corinthians 13 in the following light: Lust is impatient, lust is unkind, and is jealous; lust brags and is arrogant, it acts unbecomingly; it seeks its own, is provoked, takes into account a wrong suffered, rejoices in unrighteousness, but does not rejoice with the truth; exposes all things, doubts all things, gives up on all things, does not endure all things. Lust always fails.

Love is characterized by forgiveness.

Love does not keep ledgers or accounts of wrongdoings. Love will not allow the sun to go down on its anger (Ephesians 4:26), but works to extend and receive forgiveness. (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with the words from 1 Corinthians 13 (NIV) written by Paul:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (Quote source here.)

Without love . . .

Everything else . . .

Is meaningless . . . .

YouTube Video: “Whole Heart” by Brandon Heath:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Our Journey Through Time

“Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.” ~King David (Psalm 39:5b)

All of us on this planet of ours are bound by the same thing–time. King Solomon, who was King David’s and Bathsheba’s son, wrote the following in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

The Byrds’ song, Turn, Turn, Turn made some of these words of King Solomon’s famous back in 1965 (YouTube Video below). And we’ve all heard that expression, “Life is short.” While the young among us have no concept of just how fast life goes by, those of us who are much older are all too aware of just how fast it passes–in the blink of an eye.

We’ve all been admonished at some point in life to “not waste our life,” but what, exactly, does that mean? I ran across an article published on February 25, 2011, titled, Life is Short–So Don’t Waste It? by Dr. David A. “Gunner” Gundersen, lead pastor at BridgePoint Bible Church in Houston, TX, and here is what he has to say on the subject:

“Life is short.”

You hear it all the time.

You hear it all the time despite all our western attempts to look young, stay young, and never grow up, and despite our over-realized sense of national invincibility. The ticking clock, the graying hair, the growing children, and the changing times all remind us that our lives are blinkingly brief. One mention of your favorite high school CD around a group of middle schoolers reveals just how much the times have changed, and not because they don’t know the band but because they don’t know what a CD was. As a new friend told me several weeks ago as we were talking about making the most of our time with our young children: “The days are long but the years are short.”

Now, the contemporary church has no shortage of books, sermons, and mottos declaring exactly this lesson, because Scripture teaches its truth, experience echoes its veracity, and urgency requires its recognition. It serves as the grounding indicative for all kinds of urgent imperatives:

The general encouragement: “Life is short — make it count.”

The pleasant reminder: “Life is short — enjoy every minute.”

The negative warning: “Life is short — don’t waste it.”

The ministry exhortation: “Life is short — serve the Lord.”

The missional admonition: “Life is short — reach the nations.”

I have a problem with this.

My problem is not that any of the preceding urgings are wrongheaded or unscriptural. My problem is not that Christians (especially young ones) are constantly being told not to waste their lives. And my problem is not with the connection we typically make between the brevity of life and the call to urgency, purpose, focus, and diligence. They are scriptural. And they are needed.

My problem is that when Scripture talks explicitly about the brevity of life, it often emphasizes the opposite of our calls to ambitious action.

Take this morbid salvo from James: “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:15).

How would you expect James to follow up that statement?

I believe the contemporary church has already answered that question (see above).

We are a people who can’t help but do. We hear something like, “Life is short,” and our immediate application is “Do better,” “Work harder,” “Sacrifice more.” Whether pleasure or service or mission, we remember that life is short and we instantly think: Act.

Now, this is all fine and good and (sometimes) scriptural. But it’s worth reminding that in James 4:13-16, James is rebuking presumptuous businessmen who are declaring precisely what we usually begin to declare in our hearts when we’re hit with the “Life is short” reminder.

“Life is short… I better start doing ____.” “Life is short… I better not waste my opportunity to ____.” “Life is short… I’m going to step it up and ____.”

But what does James actually say? “Your life is a vapor. Therefore, you should stop making ambitious declarations about what you’re going to do and instead acknowledge that God is the one in control. Wake up from your arrogance and remember — only with his explicit blessing are you going to do anything, much less do what you’re so confidently planning to do. You don’t even control tomorrow.”

Even the declaration that I’m not going to waste my life can be arrogant boasting (4:16). Why? Because “you do not know what tomorrow will bring” (4:14). My noble resolution that I’m going to maximize my life could actually be an ignoble presumption that I will have a life to maximize. “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (4:15).

My point is simply this: The presumptuous declaration of what a man will ambitiously do with his own life is the exact mentality that God is rebuking when he says through James, “Your life is short.”

So how did a similar kind of declaration become our application anthem for the exact same phrase?

That question probably has more than a couple answers, all of them worth pondering.

Meanwhile, what is James’ exhortation?

“Your life is short. Make the most of it”?

No.

“Your life is short. Humble yourself.” (Quote source here.)

Life IS short. But sometimes we get it all wrong thinking that “doing” more is the answer. The briefest answer in the Bible as to how to live our lives from beginning to end is found in Micah 6:8:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

And it doesn’t get any simpler than that . . . .

Act justly . . .

Love mercy . . .

Walk humbly . . . .

YouTube Video: “Turn, Turn, Turn” (1965) by the Byrds:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time

“Always pay attention.” ~Leon Logothetis, global adventurer, motivational speaker, and philanthropist.

The title of the book was enough for me to pick it up from a large variety of books stacked in the discount area at a local Barnes & Noble bookstore I stopped at yesterday. The title? Live, Love, Explore: A Roadmap to the Life You Were Meant to Live (2016) by Leon Logothetis, global adventurer, motivational speaker, and philanthropist. His website is located at WayoftheTraveler.com, and he has another website located here.

As I was browsing through the book I ran across the following quote on page 127:

So many of us find ourselves confined by the gadgets and routines and accouterments of modern life that we think should free us. Sure, the Internet is basically the whole of the world’s knowledge at the tips of our fingers, but sometimes it also prevents us from being present in the world around us. Sometimes, in order to connect with the world, we need to cut the cord to all the emails and updates and news feeds–the unending, digital responsibility. Sometimes we need to break up the routine, put down the phone, and just go live. (Quote source, Live, Love, Explore,” page 127.)

I learned to type on a manual typewriter my sophomore year in high school. By my senior year it was an electric typewriter (I graduated from high school in 1970). Our phones were connected to walls located at home or at work or at pay phone booths. Information was found in a library, on TV, in a newspaper, a magazine, a book, an encyclopedia, or a dictionary. I lived clear into my 30’s before the first computers started showed up on the scene when I was in grad school in the late 1980’s. I got my first email address when I was a doctoral student (at the age of 40) during my fellowship year (1992-93). And it all began with that glorious DOS screen that was black with green or white type (and no pictures–just type). I found the following information on Quora:

[Internet] Providers hit the scene in the early 1990s. 1995 was the year AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe all showed up. At the time (and still), ISPs would give users an email address automatically. Popular webmail services (such as Hotmail) started popping up in 1996/97.

By the end of 1996, just shy of one in ten Americans was on the Internet, which would mean that most everyone would either be an Internet user, or be within two degrees of separation of an Internet user. For me, if everyone can “know someone who knows someone” who does something, it might not be popular, but it’s gone beyond an obscurity. But somewhere in 2001, more than half of Americans crossed over to the Internet; and I feel like once half of a population is engaged in a behavior, it’s “popular” by any reasonable definition.

So somewhere between 1996 and 2001, Internet usage went from being a relative rarity to normalized, depending on how you want to define popular. And while it’s not a direct 1:1, I feel like it’s reasonable to assume that email popularity tracked with Internet usage. (Quote source here.)

And that wasn’t “way back in the dark ages” either. We are talking late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The first stand alone computer using 5″ floppy disks that I used in a work setting occurred when I worked at a school district in the mid-to- late 1980’s.

As the saying goes, “We’ve come a long way, baby.” Yes, we have, and now we don’t know how to live without it. We are so joined at the hip with our technology today that we’d rather text with the person sitting next to us instead of engaging in a normal conversation with them. So, right now I want to post some suggestions on how we can learn to disconnect a bit from all that technology and learn to live, love, and explore life without always having to be connected to the internet. I’m not even sure the younger generations have ever experienced life without it.

After looking at a bunch of articles on how to disconnect from the world of technology (not completely, of course), I liked this particular article published in 2015 titled, 16 Ways to Unplug from Technology Every Day,” by Cathy Presland, Editor-in-Chief at authorunlimited.comHere are her tips:

HOW OFTEN DO YOU CHECK YOUR PHONE?

Technology, even for writers, is an integral part of our lives, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But, as with all good things, to truly reap the benefits you should moderate how and when you use it.

Tech addiction isn’t just a problem for the “selfie generation”; the average smartphone user checks their device 150 times a day. Wow! That means, if we’re awake for 15 hours, then, on average, we might check our phone ten times an hour. And it’s the norm to think that multi-tasking means we can get more done in both our work life and private life.

But does it?

TECH ADDICTION REDUCES PRODUCTIVITY

Studies show that doing more than one thing at the same time is actually making us slower and stupider, rather than making us more efficient. Burying your face in a screen for a large part of your day wreaks havoc on mental and physical health, with studies showing that young adults who overuse technology show similar brain patterns to those addicted to alcohol and cocaine.

GO ON A DIGITAL DETOX

While going “off the grid” and living totally without technology isn’t a viable option for most of us, we can learn to cut down on our tech habits and still be functioning members of society. It’s perfectly OK to switch off sometimes without damaging your social life, or reducing your impact at work. Unplugging does not mean disconnecting.

UNPLUG FROM TECHNOLOGY

We’ve put together 16 easy ways you can detach from your device on a daily basis, leaving you to get the most out of your work and your life. And, of course, have time to write your book, and perhaps even learn how to write better.

1. START YOUR DAY RIGHT

We know that starting our day with a healthy breakfast or a nutrient-packed smoothie is good for us, so why not also nourish your mind first thing in the morning? Instead of reaching for your phone as soon as you wake up, concentrate on you. Spend some time meditating, or boost your brain with meditation alternatives, before answering a single email. You’ll have a more productive and relaxed day.

2. GO OLD SCHOOL

Leave your smartphone behind and go back to the stock standard android of the early 2000’s (Nokia 33500 anyone?) Not only does the battery power far exceed that of any modern smartphone on the market, it also severely limits what you can do while you’re out.

No more emails or checking Facebook on the go. Just essential phone calls and texts. Try it and you might be surprised how much you like it.

3. DO MORE

If you’re one of those people who spends (dare I say ‘wastes’?!) time surfing the net, then fill your day so that there is no spare time in there. Run an accountability system or arrange meetings during the day. And pack your after-work schedule with activities that nourish you so that there is very little time for online activities between work, dinner and sleep.

Even if you just do this a few days a week, it helps detox you from the need to be online constantly.

4. BRING A BOOK. OR WRITE A BOOK?

Checking emails and social media on the train or while waiting in line may seem like the ultimate time management, but all those different images, clips and emails are actually making you unfocused. Carry a book with you instead, or at least use the Kindle app on your phone and switch off the mobile signal.

Or maybe you can put that time to even better use, switch the phone off altogether and use it to write. An extra hour or two a day could help you get to first draft in just a few months. Will you even remember the time you spent on Facebook then?

5. DOWNLOAD AN APP

Can you use technology to detach from technology? It seems counter-intuitive to say the least but, if there’s a market for it, tech companies will deliver.

Detach Apps are popping up all over the place and they work by blocking you out of certain apps (Facebook or email perhaps?), or by turning your smartphone into a ‘dumb’ phone for the time period you specify. (Might help you focus on that writing we were just talking about!)

6. GO ON A DIGITAL DIET

Just like you’d count your calories or activity steps to help you drop a few pounds, why not start counting your technology time? Take note of how many times a day you check your emails, surf the web, or browse social media, and then try reducing it by 10%, or cutting out one or more of those sessions a day. And, with your extra time, try adding in an exercise class, or a writing session, or just some focused family time?

7. TAKE A MINI-BREAK

If you’re struggling with a serious technology overdose, then take the tech version of a mini-break and leave your phone at home. I know it might be painful, but the world will not end if you do not post details of your day on Facebook. And if this is too hard, then take a real mini-break to a location without connection — a health spa, perhaps, or a writer’s retreat?

8. STREAMLINE YOUR WORK

Before you start to think that we’re all about switching off, then let’s talk about streamlining so that you can make technology work for you. Have you noticed the explosion of ways that people can get in touch with you? From phone, to text, to Facebook message, Skype, Whatsapp, and more…

It’s a misconception that being uber-connected is the only way to stay ahead of the game in business. In fact, the opposite is true — it’s better to limit your connectivity. Streamline the places you need to check in when you’re online by requesting certain people only contact you through a particular medium.

For example, clients may have access to your phone number, but general inquiries come by email and then have an assistant who filters them before you even see them. Turn off messaging on your Facebook page, have ‘do not disturb’ as the default on Skype with a message re-directing them to that general email address. And so on.

And then switch everything else off so you’re not constantly refreshing your apps on the lookout for messages that aren’t coming. Or maybe even uninstall some of those many communication apps…?

9. GET ACTIVE

If you find that you get into the ‘tech haze’ when you’re on the move because you’ve had your face buried in your device on the way to a meeting, the office (if you have one), the shops, or a friend’s house, then change your mode of transport. Try something that means you can’t be on the device, or can only be hands-free. Ride a bicycle, or put on some runners and jog to work. Or travel with a friend or colleague. Whatever works to stop you reaching into your pocket and clicking that typepad.

10. LEAVE WORK BEHIND

When you leave work, really leave it. Activate the “out of office” on your email, have a separate number and don’t divert calls to your personal phone, and don’t be tempted to check emails (or use an assistant filter them and ask them to only forward ones that are essential for you to see).

Unless you’re the Prime Minister, there is unlikely to be anything work-related that can’t wait until tomorrow!

11. INVOLVE YOUR FRIENDS

Make yourself accountable to your decision to unplug by telling your friends and family about it. Ask them to call you out if you duck off to write an email or keep your phone on the table during dinner. Even just knowing they’re watching out for you will help you stay unplug from technology and, if that fails, public shaming should keep your relapses to a minimum.

12. LOCK UP

Don’t trust yourself to keep your anti-tech word? Then give your phone to your partner to hold onto for an hour or two while you do something else, or give your passwords to your assistant and him or her to lock you out until a designated time.

Or, my favorite, go and work in an environment that doesn’t have wifi (like my favorite cafe) or where you are forced to be quiet (like the local library). Or head off to that spa retreat for some serious relaxation time.

13. SET A STRICT ‘TECHNOLOGY’ BEDTIME

We’ve known for some time now that the blue light from our screens can really mess up our sleeping patterns, but I bet I’m not the only one who has a last peek at the phone before bed? Set a bed time for your technology. And experts recommend that this should be around two hours before your actual bedtime to give you enough time to wind down.

You could even do this for the whole family and turn the wifi off at a set time giving yourselves time to talk, play games, read or catch up with Game of Thrones. And then, easier said than done I know, you have to stick to it!

14. SCHEDULE SOME ‘FREE TIME’

Life isn’t all about restrictions so set some ‘free time’ every day where you can go on any and all your devices to do what you want — play games, chat to friends or upload your pics to Instagram. And, when that time slot is over, just switch off again.

This gets you into a pattern of using your tech-time more wisely. If you know you only have a limited slot then you’ll prioritize naturally, and you’ll know when enough is enough.

15. BE MORE ‘IN THE MOMENT’

One of the biggest costs we pay for our societies’ addiction to constant connection is that we are no longer living in the moment. But you can buck that trend and still practice functioning in the here, now, and physical.

Enjoy just living in the moment: go for a walk in a suburb, or a location you don’t know — and don’t take your google maps! If you live in a city, go on a random train or tube ride without scheduling the trip on your travel app. Leave a note on the kitchen table instead of texting your partner with your dinner plans.

And for writers (or anyone!), this spontaneous exploration will help spark ideas and boost your creativity.

16. JUST SWITCH OFF…

There are a hundred different tricks to get you offline, but when it comes down to it, all you have to do is switch off. Get into the habit of turning off instead of turning on the screen saver. Don’t race to answer messages or calls—get into the habit of letting them go to voicemail and then check in from time to time.

Build a routine so that you are online for part of the day, and then strictly offline for the rest of the day, enjoying life, or focused on your work, or just relaxing.

ARE YOU READY TO UNPLUG?

You probably know, at some level, whether your use of technology is getting out of control and impacting on your quality of life. Perhaps it’s a moan from a partner, a comment from one of your children, or a look at what someone else is doing when you go out for a meal and realizing that’s how you look some of the time. Take note of those signs and act on them before technology takes time and attention away from your work and loved ones.

With 16 ways to take a digital detox, you have no excuse for not trying at least one of these methods. And, who knows, you might even enjoy being offline! (Quote source here.)

Those suggestions are quite helpful in getting us to think about connecting more with life and people and less with technology. Just pick one and give it a try. You might just find a whole new way of life waiting for you.

Ready . . .

Set . . .

Take a break . . . .

YouTube Video: “If I Could Turn Back the Hand of Time” (1970) by Tyrone Davis:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

The Journey of Love

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ~The Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:13

I just posted a blog post titled, Love Does,” on my regular blog (I still think of this blog as being my “new” blog), and realized it would fit on this blog, too, and all I did differently was to rename it to “The Journey of Love” so it would fit with the “journey” theme of this blog. So here it is!

The Most Reverend Doctor Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, and Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the South, headquartered in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, opened his article titled, Loving One Another Like Jesus,” with the following words: “One of the distinguishing marks of a follower of Jesus is supposed to be our love for one another. Jesus said this love for one another would be how people would know that we are his people” (John 13:35). He went on to state:

On the night before he was crucified, he exhorted his disciples: “A new commandment I give to you: Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34). The commandment to love was not new as Leviticus 19:18 taught God’s people to love their neighbors as they love themselves. What is new is that Jesus adds that God’s people are to love one another as “he” loved. This begs the question: How did Jesus love?

Jesus loved by sharing his life and entering into our world. He left the glory, power, and majesty of heaven and entered our world (John 1:14). He was born as a baby and shared life with us. To love as Jesus loved means to leave the comfort and security of our own world and enter into another’s world by sharing one’s life. This could mean going to another culture and loving people, or this could simply mean entering into the world of those people you live with every day.

Jesus loved by serving humanity. He taught, healed people of their diseases, performed miracles, walked many miles, and washed feet. He said: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Mark 10:45). To love as Jesus loved means that it is not about me. It is about how I can help the other person. It is about how I can make their life better by serving them.

Jesus loved by sacrificing his life. His death on the cross made atonement for sin which humanity couldn’t make. Its power brings about forgiveness of sins and allows humans to have a personal relationship with God: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). To love as Jesus loved means sacrificing selfish desires and ambitions for the sake of another. It means taking up one’s cross daily and dying to my selfish ways so that others may be blessed.

Many of us have bought into the “love is a feeling” concept, which is popular in our culture. If I feel love, I love you. If I don’t feel love, I don’t love you. Jesus has modeled for us that real love is about what I do and say, not just about what I feel. It is about sharing oneself. It is about service to the other. It is about sacrifice for the sake of the other person.

What would happen if followers of Jesus began to take seriously his new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you”? (Quote source here.)

The world “love” is tossed around so casually today that it doesn’t have much meaning beyond a feeling, which is not always actually love (for example, as in lust). We say things like “I love my car,” or “I love my friends,” or “I love my job” (that one might not be as popular), but it’s not really, at it’s core, what genuine love is all about. Love is an action word. It requires that we do something beyond just saying, “I love you.”

The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:9-21:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Paul goes on to state in 1 Corinthians 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

That pretty much says what needs to be said about love. It’s up to us to put it into action. I’ll end this post with the words from the chorus to the song, The Message is Love (YouTube video below). which states: Love is the message and the message is love, From the streets to the mountains to the heavens above. Tell everybody what you’re dreaming of . . .

That love is the message . . .

And the message . . .

Is LOVE . . . .

YouTube Video: “The Message is Love” (1990) by Arthur Baker & The Backbeat Disciples (ft. Rev. Al Green):

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Traveling Around the World

“There’s no substitute for just going there.”~Yvon Chouinard, an American rock climber, environmentalist, and outdoor industry billionaire businessman

A little over a month ago I wrote a blog post titled, If I Could Travel Around the World,” and I’d like to continue with that particular theme on this blog post. I just ran across an interesting article titled, 365 Days: 20 Things I Learned from Traveling Around the World,” by Clayton B. Cornell, who describes himself as a travel blogger, global citizen, Cleantechie. He also blogs on his blog at SpartanTraveler.com, which he has been doing since 2011.

In a brief description on his blog, SpartanTraveler.com, he states the following: “My name is Clayton. I’ve been traveling full-time since mid-2011 while building a business on my laptop. SpartanTraveler is my personal blog of uncommon travel adventures, logbook of travel hacks, and forum for thoughts on lifestyle design and working in the 21st century. Current Location: Canary Islands. (Quote source here.)

Canary Islands . . . well, I just had to read on!!! If I have to live in a hotel room why not do it globally, right? 🙂 And he has been able to do it on the cheap,” too. Now he really has my attention!

Cornell’s article titled, If I Could Travel Around the World,” was first published on August 5, 2012, after his first trip ended. His article opens with the following statement:

Over one year ago I quit my job and decided to travel around the world. This was both a dream 10 years in the making and one of  the best decisions I’ve ever made.

In the last 12 months I learned a lot about long-term travel, what I need to be happy, and how to survive outside of the US. Many of these things can’t be learned at home or in a book, and while reading about them on the internet can only get you so far, a lot of people have asked me to explain how I’ve done it.

Well, here’s part of the answer:

“There’s no substitute for just going there.” –Yvon Chouinard

My trip hasn’t been about sightseeing (although I’ve done that) as much as just being somewhere. The simple challenges of daily routine can be overwhelming: trying to eat, drink, and sleep in a place where nothing makes sense, you don’t speak the language, and where none of the basic comforts of home are available. It’s not easy, but if you want a fast-track to personal development, get on a plane.

When I was younger my dad often said ‘the hardest part is just getting out the door.’ And that may be the most important lesson of all:  it’s too easy to get complacent at home and if you aren’t at least a little uncomfortable, you probably aren’t learning anything.

If you’ve already traveled extensively, you may get a kick out of this. If you haven’t, here are some reflections, tips, and advice about long-term travel on my one-year anniversary of life on the road…. (Quote source here.)

At this point in Cornell’s article he lists 20 things that are important to know and goes into detail on each one. I’ll just list them here with a brief description of each one (the entire article is available at this link):

#1) Most of the world’s people are friendly and decent.

Most of the people I’ve met around the world are extremely polite, friendly, and helpful. They are generally interested why I chose to visit their home. They are eager to assist if it’s obvious I’m lost or in trouble. They’ll go out of their way to try to make sure I have a good stay in their country. And, contrary to what most Americans tend to think (see #3 below), they often don’t know much about the United States (or necessarily care)….

#2) Most places are as safe (or safer) than home.

The only place I’ve been violently mugged was in my home city of San Francisco. Many of the people I know there have been robbed at gunpoint, and on more than one occasion there were shootings in my neighborhood.

In one incident just a block away from my apartment (Dolores Park), a man was shot 5 times and somehow escaped, only to collapse about 10m from our front door. You can still see the blood stains on the sidewalk.

Turns out we actually live in a pretty dangerous country.

In over 365 days on the road, staying mostly in dormitory-style hostels and traveling through several countries considered ‘high-risk,’ the only incident I had was an iPhone stolen out of my pocket on the metro in Medellin, Colombia….

#3) Most people don’t know (or care) what America is doing.

I’ve met people that didn’t even know that San Francisco (or California even) had a coastline (now there’s a sobering conversation for you. So much for thinking that’s the center of the world eh?)….

#4) You can travel long-term for the price of rent and a round of drinks back home.

Before I left home, my original budget projection was $50/day, which I would consider lavish in many parts of the world. In some places, I spent as little as $20/day (including lodging, all meals, and booze) while living in relative luxury right on the beach. Generally, I shot for $30/day which gave me a buffer of $20 for travel and miscellaneous or one-time expenses.

Countries visited on this budget: Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Easter Island (Chile), Argentina, Uruguay, Santa Cruz (California), North Shore of Oahu, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Turkey….

You might be blown away by how cheap some ‘expensive’ places can be. The second cheapest hostel I stayed in (after Guatemala–@$4/night for a room) was in Berlin, Germany, at €6/night (~$7.43 USD). Beer in Prague was as cheap or cheaper than any other country I’ve been to (it was $1.43 for 0.5L in ultra-touristy downtown Prague). You can rent a decent downtown apartment in Budapest for $200/month.

#5) Saving for a big trip is not as hard as you think.

Most people think I’m rich because I’ve been traveling for a year. What they don’t realize is that, although I didn’t leave at the time (this was 5 years ago), I was able to save enough money for this trip within a year and a half of graduating college…. I plan to write more about how to save money in the future….

#6) In most places, moving around is incredibly easy.

In most places you can get from anywhere to just about anywhere else, and most of the time it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to figure out. Generally (outside the middle of peak tourist season in popular places) I haven’t bothered with reservations or pre-planning transportation routes. I just show up at the bus or train station and go.

I’ve ridden buses for hours into the middle of the Costa Rican jungle as well as through BFE in the Northern Chilean Andes. There’s almost always a group of locals who needs to get to where you’re going too. And if there’s no bus you can always hitchhike (this only happened once or twice on my entire trip).

It’s an eye-opener to see how some of the poorest countries on earth can still provide better public transportation than San Francisco….

#7) Every pound over 20 makes life worse.

There is virtually no reason to carry more than 20lbs (~9kg) of gear unless you’re going on a major trek or you have some serious sporting event in mind (like multi-day backpacking or cold weather sports). If you’re traveling in the summer you can get by on even less….

#8) Long-term travel is not a vacation (it’s a full-time job).

Planning and logistics also take an incredible amount of time and effort. Most downtime spent in a place when not sight-seeing is typically sucked up in researching the next destination, making reservations, planning logistics, and going through the dreaded ‘time budgeting’ process where you decide what you can reasonably see in the time available (and what you have to cut out)….

#9) ‘Travelers’ and ‘Tourists’ are different.

Tourists exchange money for pre-packaged experiences. They consume experiences and move on without engaging with the local culture….

Travelers are there to see things, not buy them. Travelers tend to be more involved. They may stay with locals, hang out with locals, try to learn the language, or just plain move slowly enough to really live and be where they are….

#10) Don’t worry about traveling alone (it’s better).

Afraid to go it alone? Don’t be. Go the the first big city in your destination country and hang out in the hostel lobby for a few days. I promise you’ll make new friends. This is why you should also stay in hostels. Don’t be afraid of sharing a room. It’s a small trade-off for the amazing people you’ll meet….

#11) Movement can be addictive (and this is not necessarily a good thing).

Have a minimum stay: 3 nights in every destination. This is enough time to see the place, relax, and get sorted before the next stop. It also means you’ll have to cut out some places if you’re tight on time. While I’ve had great one-night stops before… it isn’t sustainable or desirable to do too much of this….

#12) Don’t bank on paradise.

Keep your expectations in check… (he goes into detail about this). 

#13) Traveling doesn’t get ‘traveling’ out of your system.

If you’ve got this bug it’s not going away (sorry), but the obvious question is: why are we trying to get traveling out of our system, anyway?…

#14) Eventually, you will need something real to do.

Despite popular belief, most people can’t just sit around doing nothing for an extended period of time. Especially Type-A American folks who I’ve been told are ‘goal-oriented’ and always trying to ‘get things done.’ It might be a cultural thing, but it’s more likely just human nature to want to be involved in something larger than yourself….

#15) Long-term happiness is a pretty complicated emergent property that has little to do with money.

A lot of people defer things they might otherwise pursue for the big payout dream. The ‘if I only win the lottery’ or ‘when I sell my company for $10 million’ routine. The problem with the fantasy, besides the obvious deferral of really having to come to terms with what you want to do in life, is that while a big payout would certainly increase the options available to you, but that is not necessarily a good thing….

Think $10 million in the bank is going to make you happy? Well, good luck with that….

#16) When you challenge a person’s assumptions it can really piss them off.

Read what Cornell has to say on this item. It’s hard to find a short quote from it to include here.

#17) Travel slowly: Save money, avoid burnout, do more.

The most expensive part of traveling for me has typically been moving from point A to point B. Traveling like a maniac can be a lot of fun, but you’ll save money and get to really know places if you take your time.

#18) You can’t work and travel at the same time.

Okay, you sort of can, you just won’t ever get nearly as much done as you want to…. (read more at his article).

#19) When everything gets irritating, it might be time to head home.

That pretty much sums it up….

#20) Long-term traveling can teach you more than almost anything else.

About yourself, about life, about what you need to be happy. It also really highlights just how different home is from everywhere else, especially when you start to get a large sample size to compare it to.

For some, this can mean going home with a heightened perspective. For others, it may mean never going home. For everyone though, long-term travel will change your life. (Quote source here.)

Now that I’ve read through his list, I feel better prepared regarding what to expect, and I was happy to read that rent in other countries is often much cheaper then right here in America. I think I’ll be taking a closer look at his website, SpartanTraveler.com. And if wanderlust has struck you, too, you might want to check it out.

I’ll end this post with a reminder from Proverbs 16:9 (NLT) when it comes to making our plans…

We can make our plans . . .

But the Lord . . .

Determines our steps . . . .

YouTube Video: “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Traveling Mercies

“…because when people have seen you at their worst, you don’t have to put on the mask as much.” ~Anne Lamott, in Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

Yesterday I wrote a blog post on my other blog titled, Unshakable Hope.” The title comes from a brand new book with the same title by Max Lucado, best-selling Christian author and senior pastor at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. A couple of excerpts from Chapters 11 and 12 in the book are included in that post, which you can read at this link.

In the first chapter of the book, he states:

Could you use some unshakable hope?

If so, you’re not alone. We live in a day of despair. The suicide rate in America has increased 24 percent since 1999. Twenty-four percent! If a disease saw such a spike, we would deem it an epidemic. How do we explain the increase? We’ve never been more educated. We have tools of technology our parents could not have dreamed of. We are saturated with entertainment and recreation. Yet more people than ever are orchestrating their own deaths. How could this be?

Among the answers must be this: people are dying for lack of hope. Secularism sucks the hope out of society. It reduces the world to a few decades between birth and hearse. Many people believe this world is as good as it gets, and let’s face it. It’s not that good. (Quote source: Unshakable Hope, page 10.)

“Wait, you’re not going to leave us there, right?” No, I’m not, but you’ll have to get the book to find out what Max has written about the promises of God that do come against this age of despair.

Since I lost my job almost a decade ago (well, in another seven months it will be a decade), I’ve run into a side of life in America I didn’t think about all that much except for when it was reported in news stories. And the advances in technology over the past decade have exponentially spread it around the globe, too. What we might have thought was a minority of people (I’m not referring to racial minorities) has exponentially grown over these past ten years, especially with the raise of the “Nones (the religiously unaffiliated). It has become apparent, as Max stated above, that many of us living today have reduced the world to a few decades between birth and death, and if this life is all we get, empathy for others tends to go down the tube as we are seeking to get everything we can get out of life. While there has always been a philosophy of you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours approach to life, now the scratching has become more knife-like.

I have no idea what it’s like to live as if this life is all there is and there is nothing beyond the grave. Being a Christian since I was a very young girl, my faith in God has been my anchor throughout my life, and He has seen me through some pretty unbelievable stuff especially over this past decade that I could never have navigated through on my own. I could list a few of the miracles He’s given me, but I’d rather just be incredibly thankful for them. In some corners of Christianity in America today we’ve been lead to believe that Christianity is some kind of “magic carpet ride” of success and/or prosperity in life. Persecuted Christians around the world today would tend to greatly differ with our brand of Christianity, and a reading of Hebrews 11 should clear up that fallacy pretty quickly, too. Most people look at “outward appearances” and judge accordingly (as in, well, gee, he or she doesn’t look, act, or dress like a Christian as “Christian” is defined by our culture). Fortunately, God doesn’t judge by outward appearances; He looks at the heart (see I Samuel 16:7). Outward appearances are often deceiving.

As our society becomes more secular, it makes for some rather interesting interactions with those who want something we might have to increase their own standing and/or wealth, or to get their own way, etc. It gives rise to a belief that there are no consequences for our actions in life or even after death. In a world like this there should be no surprise that the suicide rate has increase 24 percent since 1999 given that fact that God is too often viewed as a sort of “killjoy” to life, or He is blamed for the bad stuff that happens to us, or that we have reduced Him to a religious symbol of sorts or allotted Him one hour of our lives on Sunday morning, or, worse yet, made Him into a nonentity altogether. In a world where God doesn’t matter or exist to a growing majority of people, who cares how we treat each other in this life if this life is all that we get and there are no consequences for our actions.

God have mercy on us all, even those who don’t believe in Him.

The title of this particular blog post, “Traveling Mercies,” is not just about a Christian definition of that phrase that started in the 19th Century. According to the Dictionary of Christianese,” it is defined as follows:

The term arose in the late 19th century and was used at first almost exclusively of church workers who were on a long journey for the purpose of ministry work (see sense 1), but by the mid-20th century the term was being used in a general way of any Christians who were on a journey for any reason (see sense 2). Sense 1: God’s blessings and protection on missionaries, preachers, and other church workers who are traveling to or from a place of ministry, usually at some distance; and Sense 2: God’s blessings and protection on any people who are traveling. (Quote source here.)

The traveling mercies I am referring to are the mercies we receive from God throughout our lives as we journey through life (and yes, those mercies are extended to those who don’t believe in God), and they are not specific to any subset of people (as in only to Christians). God, in His great mercy, is no respecter of persons (e.g., God shows no partiality–see Acts 10:34-43). God pours out His mercy even on those who don’t believe in Him. As 2 Peter 3:9 makes very clear, “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.”

In answer to the question, What does it mean that God is merciful?” GotQuestions.org gives us the following answer:

God being merciful basically means that, when we deserve punishment, He doesn’t punish us, and in fact blesses us instead. Mercy is the withholding of a just condemnation. Throughout the Bible, God gives many illustrations of His mercy. God fully demonstrates His mercy in Jesus Christ.

God was merciful to the wayward Solomon in 1 Kings 11:13. God was merciful to Israel in captivity (Psalm 106:45Nehemiah 9:31). David illustrated God’s mercy when he showed kindness to Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:7). God’s mercy was illustrated every year on the Day of Atonement, when the high priest entered the Holiest Place and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice before the mercy seat (Leviticus 16:14).

Another illustration of God’s mercy is found in Matthew 18:23–27. In this parable, Jesus describes a rich ruler who was owed a large sum of money. The ruler ordered that money be collected, but then the debtor came and begged for mercy. The ruler, in turn, graciously forgives the debt. Here’s the point: we owed God a debt we could never repay, and He has freely forgiven us that debt in Christ! Interestingly, after the ruler in the parable forgives the debt, the person who owed the money refuses to forgive someone else. The ruler then judges that ungrateful person. God requires us to be merciful and forgiving to others here on earth (see Matthew 6:15). We who have been forgiven so much have no right to withhold forgiveness from others.

Mercy is coupled with other attributes of God in Psalm 86:15, “You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (ESV). God’s mercy is rooted in His love for us. He is merciful, in large part, because He is love (1 John 4:8). As sinners, we deserve punishment (Romans 3:23). God’s righteousness requires punishment for sin—He wouldn’t be holy otherwise. Since God does love us and is merciful, He sent His Son (John 3:16). The fullness of His mercy is seen in Matthew 27. Jesus is brutally beaten and murdered on our behalf; Jesus received our just condemnation, and we received God’s mercy.

Because of His love for us, God wants us to be with Him. His mercy is required for that to take place; there is an inseparable connection between God’s love and mercy. Jesus laid down His life and became the sacrificial lamb (Isaiah 53:7John 1:29) so that God’s mercy could be extended to us. Instead of punishing us for our sin, God allowed His Son to take the condemnation in our place. That is the ultimate act of God’s mercy (see Ephesians 2:4–5). To our eternal benefit, “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13b). (Quote source here.)

Even as our society becomes more and more secular, we ought to be incredibly grateful that God’s mercies endure forever (see Psalm 136). As noted by GotQuestions.org regarding the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah:

The prophet Jeremiah wrote Lamentations [in the Old Testament] in a time of grief and national mourning, after the once great city of Jerusalem fell to Babylon, circa 586 BC. The book describes great anguish—and great hope—in poetic form. The main theme of the book is God’s judgment on Judah’s sin as well as His compassion for His people. Lamentations contains “laments” or “loud cries” for Jerusalem and many expressions of anguish and pain, but in chapter 3, right in the middle of the book, there is a beautiful passage of confidence and hope.

Jeremiah’s tone changes from despair to hope in Lamentations 3:21: “Yet this I call to mind / and therefore I have hope.” From this and ensuing verses, we know that, even in the darkest times, God is faithful and will not cast off His people forever. Every day, every morning, God shows His mercy and compassion.

Taking a closer look at Lamentations 3:22–23, we notice a couple important themes. First, the Lord’s “great love” (“steadfast love” in some translations) abides even in times of trouble and divine judgment. God never stopped loving Israel, despite His discipline of them. The Hebrew word translated “great love” is used about 250 times in the Old Testament; it refers to love, of course, but it also encompasses elements of grace, mercy, goodness, forgiveness, compassion, and faithfulness. It is because of God’s “great love” for His people that spared them from being utterly wiped out by Babylon. As we know from history, God later restored His people to their land and blessed them again.

A second theme is God’s unfailing compassion or mercyMercy in the Bible is God’s withholding of a just punishment. The particular Hebrew word used in Lamentations 3:22 has to do with tender love, great and tender mercy, or pity. The same word is used in Isaiah 63:7 and translated “compassion”: “I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us—yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.” The Lord has pity on His suffering children; in fact, His mercies are new every morning.

Jeremiah’s statement that God’s mercies are “new every morning” is related to the statement that follows: “Great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23). God is unchanging, and His mercies toward Israel were unfaltering. His covenant with Abraham’s descendants would be kept (see Jeremiah 31:35–37). This was the bright ray of hope that shone through the smoke of Jerusalem’s ruins.

The dawning of every new day could be seen as a symbol of God’s light breaking through the darkness and His mercy overcoming our troubles. Every morning demonstrates God’s grace, a new beginning in which gloom must flee. We need look no further than the breath in our lungs, the sun that shines upon us, or the rain that falls to nourish the soil. The mercies of God continue to come to us via a multitude of manifestations.

There is no expiration date on God’s mercy toward us. His mercies are new every morning in that they are perpetual and always available to those in need. We have our ups and downs, and “even youths grow tired and weary” (Isaiah 40:30), but God is faithful through it all. With the dawn of each day comes a new batch of compassion made freshly available to us. God’s compassion is poured out from an infinite store; His mercies will never run out. Some mornings we get up on the wrong side of the bed, but even there we find God’s mercies awaiting us. (Quote source here.)

As Lamentations 3:22-23 states, Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” I’ll end this post with the words from Psalm 107:1 (they are found in many other verses, too):–Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!

For His mercy . . .

Endures . . .

Forever . . . .

YouTube Video: “His Mercy Endureth Forever” by Bishop T.D. Jakes and the Potter’s House Mass Choir:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

The Journey to Joy

“What is joy? A sunbeam between two clouds.” ~Dorothée de Luzy (1747–1830)

This past Sunday I heard a sermon on TV by Joel Osteen, senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, titled Keep Your Joy (click here for YouTube Video of the sermon). It was a very good reminder of just how important it is for us to keep our joy in the midst of trying circumstances, whether it’s the daily hassle of dealing with rush hour traffic or something more long term such as losing a job and whole lot more that can come along with it, or coming to terms with the death of a significant other– a parent, sibling, friend, etc.

I tend to believe that joy is difference from happiness. Joy doesn’t depend on the immediate external circumstances but comes from within and has deep roots if we’ve learned how to cultivate joy in our lives. Happiness, on the other hand, is a more immediate feeling that comes from something good (usually external) that has happened in our lives, such as listening to a favorite song on the radio that we haven’t heard in years; or a sunny day after days of dreary weather, or a job promotion… it’s any number of things that bring a smile to our face.

Joy has more depth. Happiness is flighty–here today and gone tomorrow. Joy sticks around when happiness is long gone. Joy is in it for the long haul. Joy is still there when the job is lost, or the divorce is final, or the parent dies.

An article titled, What is the Difference between Joy and Happiness?” found on CompellingTruth.org states the difference between the two:

Happiness is based on an experience or other external stimulus. For instance, getting engaged to be married may result in happiness. Happiness also tends to disappear when the situation changes. If, shortly after becoming engaged, a person wrecks his/her car, the happiness generated by the pleasurable experience of becoming engaged will most likely disappear because of the terrible experience of wrecking the car. The Greek word translated “happy” in the New Testament appears approximately fifty times in the New Testament. Five times it is translated “happy” and forty-five times it is translated “blessed” (numbers vary in different translations).

On the other hand, joy is based on internal well-being or the anticipation of well-being. To follow the above example, an engaged couple is often not happy. Circumstances in their lives—disagreements, for example—are not pleasurable and generate unhappiness rather than happiness. But, at the same time, most engaged couples would say they have joy almost all the time because of their anticipated marriage. The joy they have is independent of the current circumstances. The New Testament has several words that are translated “joy” or “rejoice” in the New Testament, and they appear several hundred times. 

One of the most striking places is in James 1:2, where the Scripture says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” Having “trials of various kinds” will definitely not lead to happiness, but Christians are told that it is reason for joy. The reason for joy is found in the following two verses, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4). Joy here is based on the anticipated results of the trials, not the trials themselves. 

Another place in Scripture that emphasizes joy is the entire book of Philippians. Paul wrote this book from prison in Rome, which was not a happy place. He begins with a profession of joy in chapter 1, verses 3 through 6, when he says “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 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.” He didn’t say that he was happy—indeed, circumstances fought against that—but he prayed with joy because of the confidence he had in the anticipated results of God’s work. He admits that some were preaching the gospel thinking it would cause trouble for Paul, but he goes on to say, “… what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18 NIV). Paul goes on to exhort the Philippians to seek a relationship with God that will bring them joy.

It is evident in the Scriptures that joy because of our relationship with God is to be desired more than happiness in our circumstances. Happiness may be good, but joy is much better. Happiness is often fleeting because circumstances change, but joy in Christ is eternal. (Quote source here.)

In an article titled, Is there a Relationship Between Happiness and Joy?” by Dr. Cheryl A. MacDonald, clinical psychologist, RN, writer, and business owner, she states:

Happiness is subjective. What matters is someone’s perception of happiness. Scientists say this emotion can be studied and measured because people can reliably and honestly self-report their increases and decreases in happiness levels. Joy is a state of mind, a combination of emotions, and in the spiritual context is localized in our heart. Joy contains elements of contentment, confidence and hope….

Happiness is a blurred emotion. It can mean different things to many people, and part of a psychologist’s quest is to identify all of the distinctive applications of the word. Most of us will agree that happiness is an emotional state of well-being defined by positive feelings ranging from contentment to intense joy. Those who believe in positive psychology strive to apply research methods to answer questions about what happiness is and how it can be attained. It is well known that happy people are physically and emotionally healthier than unhappy ones. There is evidence suggesting that individuals can increase their level happiness with actions like exercising to release endorphins. It is also well known that various practices have been associated with happiness, such as eating well…. 

Being joyful requires feeling connected to other people in life, with nature, by appreciating the arts, and it requires an acceptance of life, as it is, in the present. Sometimes life does not treat us well, financial devastation, becoming ill, a divorce, developing a chronic illness, becoming disabled, death of a loved one, or adapting to growing older. These transitions or challenges are all aspects of life, and we all will experience them in varying degrees until the day we die. Some believe that joy is a conscious commitment to be happy, to have a sense of contentment for the moment, despite life’s challenges. Joy is an internal lasting emotional condition…. 

Joy is an attitude or a belief, which soothes even in the most sorrowful of situations. Joy comes from within; it is an internal view.  Joy in the Biblical context, is not an emotion. It is not based on something positive happening in life, but is an attitude of the heart or spirit….

Is there a relationship between happiness and joy? Yes and No. Joy is something that lasts. Happiness is something that is temporary. Joy is an inner, conscious belief. Happiness is external. Something people may feel for a short time, for example, when they buy something that they desire. Joy brings with it a feeling of contentment when someone is in the middle of a life storm. Happiness is not present in a life storm….

[So] strive to feel the consistency of joy, and, of course have a little happiness in your life today! (Quote source here.)

Need more joy in your life (regardless of your circumstances)? Ask for it. Jesus stated in John 16:24Until now you have asked nothing in My name…

Ask, and you will receive . . .

That your joy . . .

May be full . . . .

YouTube Video: “Joy” by for KING & COUNTRY:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

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:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

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:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here