Routine is good. Having your body clock set to rise so you can check off your day’s agenda is certainly a formula for success. However, I believe one can easily become stagnant in your personal, professional and spiritual life if you don’t break the routine every once in a while. You can grow accustom to the Wilderness and not reach your Promise Land if you don’t take chances. There is a time to be strong and courageous and take a step when you feel God urging you to explore new territory. 

My son and I have just returned from our first family vacation as a new family unit of 2 and what a vacation it was. We flew all day to reach the historic land of knowledge, Athens, Greece. We fought the 7 hour time difference and immediately climbed the slick mountains of marble which once was ascended by Saint Paul, Mars Hill. The historic mount rests besides The Parthenon.  We had to be careful and keep our wits about us as we explored, which was hard to do when we were so weary from the long flight. One could lose footing and fall very easily. In fact, I can honestly say, men of all ages were falling at my feet in Athens. While I never took a tumble, there were distractions of all kinds, crowds of people from all walks of life, steep, uneven slick rocks and deep cavities along the way, BUT…..when we arrived… OH WHAT A BREATHTAKING VIEW! It was all worth it!  My son and I then hopped on a cruise ship and settled in for our journey. One of our stops included what was once a war-torn territory and is now a beautiful vacation spot, Montenegro. We explored the southern territories of Italy before hopping off in Barcelona, Spain.  

Most people’s idea of a vacation consist of laying around a pool with a frozen Pina colada in one hand and a good book in another.  Many go to the same place year after year or don’t venture away from home at all.  While I do like to sun and read, when it comes to vacations I want adventure, new experiences with new discoveries. I want to be forced to learn how to butcher a new language and have my tastebuds surprised.  I am probably one of few people who actually can lose weight on a cruise. The Princess Cruise Line was first-class in every way including their many on-ship restaurants. However, I took full advantage of the daylight at shore. We came back to the ship everyday with sore muscles from walking or climbing or both. Yes, I have a red neck tan from shorts and t-shirts which I will have to lose poolside.

When planning our travels, you will not find me bungie jumping off London Bridge, but you can count on me to book a boat to row into a small grotto, ride a horse on a well beaten-out trail or scaling a cliff on a donkey to reach a spectacular view. My adventures have included climbing 99 steep steps to reach Black Beard's castle as well as taking the lift to dine in the Eiffel Tower. I’ve swam with dolphins in Tortola and have even been lowered in a Hawaiian volcano by helicopter. Don’t be misled, I am NOT a daredevil AT ALL! I have been nervous on most of these outings but I forge ahead because I know something great lies ahead. Besides, they have all improved my prayer life. 

You will NOT find me ordering an American burger in a foreign country. I like to indulge myself in the culture. While I haven’t liked EVERYTHING, I will try about anything, within reason. I have had escargots and squab in Paris, fish and chips in London, arancini in Sicily, limoncello in Sorrento, a gyro in Greece, a Kalua pig in Maui, octopus in Grand Cayman, alligator in Louisiana and have even experienced a Royal Tea on the back lawn at Buckingham Palace. (I kid you not!)

Taking that first step to venture out and get out of your comfort zone, especially after a divorce, can be scary. Whether it is a vacation or relocation, moving out of your comfort zone to the unknown takes a leap of faith. For a couple of years now, my mind, time and money have been taken up with the proceedings of a painful and ugly divorce, the overwhelming task of starting over and learning how to be single in my “golden years,” while desperately trying to rejuvenate my career by reinventing myself.  All this while meeting the financial obligations and supervision responsibilities which come with being a single mother to a teenager, while facing many unknowns. Through it all, I know without a doubt that God has taken me by the hand and led me out of my Egypt, parted waters and led me to dry ground.  While I have not reached my Promise Land, my son and I have healed over the last year from the peace God has given us in our rest. This much-needed vacation happened at the right time. We could not have enjoyed it if it came any earlier. 

Upon arriving back to our new Texas home, I was reminded that one can’t step forward by stepping back or standing still.  On the counter waiting for me, in the pile of accumulated mail, was a “Thank You” card from a family friend, a recent high school graduate. He had included in his note the Bible verse, Joshua 1:9.  

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

That verse spoke to me. It was a declarative answer to recent prayers. I had not only been nervous about elements of our trip, the flight, the cruise, our safety traveling abroad alone, but I have been very anxious for the past couple of years about many things. How am I going to make a living? How do I rebuild my life? Will I find someone I can trust and who TRULY loves me and my son?  Should I take a risk or play it safe? Am I making the right move? Should I move? Will I make new friends? It can all be paralyzing.

That note from that young man drew me to pick up THE WORD and read it in context. As I read God gave me peace and reassurance through HIS WORD that HE IS WITH ME and what I should do. 

“NO ONE WILL BE ABLE TO STAND UP AGAINST YOU ALL THE DAYS OF YOUR LIFE. AS I WAS WITH MOSES, SO I WILL BE WITH YOU; I WILL NEVER LEAVE NOR FORSAKE YOU.” Joshua 1:5

So many times, verse after verse HE directs us to BE STRONG AND VERY COURAGEOUS AND TO BE CAREFUL. HE promises HE WILL LEAD US TO OUR PROMISE LAND. 

Like those marble rocks leading up to Mars Hill, we have to be strong, be courageous and be careful. Watching our steps as we go, watch the company we keep, being careful not to be distracted and fall. GOD WANTS US TO GO FOR IT…..GO FORWARD! KEEP GROWING, KEEP FORGING AHEAD! DON’T GET COMPLACENT!  We can take comfort and have confidence that GOD IS WITH US!  GOD WILL LEAD US TO OUR PROMISE LAND, BUT WE HAVE TO BE WILLING TO TRUST HIM AND MAKE THE JOURNEY!