How to pack light for a heavy trip


I love to travel, but I hate to pack.  We just returned from a week-long getaway, and I bet I crammed three weeks of stuff into a week’s worth of play. I never pack light.  It’s just not me. But the problem with packing is that what you pack, you have to carry.

So as we’re traveling around, we’re also lugging around way more than we need. And far more than I should be carrying.  Especially with these pesky herniated disks I’ve got.  The uninvited stowaways that slow me down, even without my bags. That leave me fed up and worn down at home and away.

This week after huffing and puffing from the unseasonable cold of Louisiana, I sat down on one of God’s red rocks of Sedona, Arizona.  Surrounded by the golden glow and rustic warmth, I still carried a chill inside.  In the midst of physical pain, whirling thoughts of the “what if’s” crept in to steal a breathtaking view.

What if this is it? What if the healing never comes?  What if the prayer goes unanswered?  What if I heard Him wrong and I didn’t get it right?  What if He changed His mind?

And then I slowly unpacked a well-placed, God-given, feather-light message.  Sitting on a rock that hasn’t moved.  And yet even more, we stand on the immovable Rock of Jesus, who’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He stands the test of time in the middle of our own time of testing. He doesn’t change His mind.  He still heals.  We still hear, and He still draws near.

I pictured a life lived lighter.  Without all of those stowaways.  And while I’m waiting on His healing hand, maybe He’s waiting on my white-knuckled hands to move as well.  To relinquish a few things.  To let go of past mistakes, to unzip regrets, unfold disbelief and then hurl them over the edge.  Standing tall and peering over to watch them fall splat before pulling out the light layers of obedience stashed way at the bottom. They look too heavy and hard, but they go on light and easy.

With empty hands poised and ready for a heap of blessings, I look up.  To clouds of white fluff kissing a sky of serene blue.  My mind floats back to those God has used to spur me on in my faith. To grandparents’ prayers.  Back to when God lit a flame that has yet to dim.  And when He sent me straight to the well of His Word for a life-long friend.  Back to when cancer took her body, and Jesus took her home.

With head in the clouds, I think about the heavenly welcome party for my mom nearly a blink ago. How they all went home empty-handed, but with spirits filled to the rim with love and faith. That’s how I want to live here. Letting go of life’s luggage.  With grateful hands held high.

We can have assurance here that although we run and sometimes stumble in our faith for an audience of One, we are rallied on by an audience of many.  Are you carrying baggage that slows you down?  Are you like me, heavy-laden waiting years for an answered prayer?  Take heart, rest on the Rock, and move in close to the hand of grace.  And then Shhhh….listen.  Can you almost hear them? The roar of the clapping crowds?  Look high and listen up.  That’s your cloud of witnesses cheering you on!

If you know someone who needs this reminder, SHARE with the one you love!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt. 11:28-30

 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Cor. 1:20

 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8

How to Run Your Race of Faith

How to Run Your Race of Faith:


Be careful what you pray for. You might just get it. Like the one I prayed last week saying, “Lord, if you’re telling me to be more obedient to your call, you’re gonna have to change me. And you’re definitely gonna have to wake me up earlier. I mean, before the chickens and way before my two little chicks. Oh, and help me not to press snooze. On the button or in life. Amen.”

So Sunday morning, and I do meaning morning–at 4:30 a.m. I heard a tapping on my window. Not really, but I heard it in my head. So I sat up. That was the hard part. Then I did the hardest part. I got up.

I heard my mamma’s words. Rewound from 1980 something on race day.  Oh, you remember those races. You ran ’em too. The 50 yard dash. Or whatever dash it was that year.

Clear as the whistling wind I heard, “Christie, remember when you’re running, you have to keep your eyes focused on the finish line. Keep them straight ahead. And whatever you do, don’t look back. It’ll only slow you down.” I don’t recall how I placed in that race, but I can’t forget where I placed those words.

Fast forward to 1990 something. Crunchy, curling iron hair, Nike’s, and the splendor of purple spandex. I stuffed those words into my cross country gym bag, and I pulled them out when I needed them. When I heard the thumping of the ground and runners hot on my tail. I so wanted to look back, but I forced my eyes forward.

And when the teenage hecklers jeered from the sidelines just to knock you off course, I rewound those words in my head. Over and over. Like a cassette tape. Rewind. Stop. Play. I didn’t win a ribbon, but I didn’t lose my focus. And the victory was the finish line.

It’s the same today. As we run our race of faith, we’re challenged to look back, to slow down, and to stop. There’s an adversary who is hot on our tail to take us from our calling. To make us doubt God’s promises in our lives. He breathes down our back and yanks at our necks. Then heckles from the sidelines, hurling past failures and present fears. Daring us to quit.

After years of living, running, and some years hobbling, we don’t even need the sideline jeers to slow us down. We’ve collected them in our head. Our self-critiques. “They can. You can’t. She’s got it. You don’t. They’re good. You’re not.” Our very own jeering sections.

But this is when we dig in deep, throttle forward, kicking up grass and dirt, and leave the enemy choking on our faith-filled dust. Head lifted high. Full speed ahead. Sprinting to the finish line and the promise.

So don’t slow down. Speed it up, ’cause it’s time to bring it on home! Now stash God’s words in your faith-racing shoes and you press on girlfriend, press on!

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

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

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.1 Cor. 9:25

In need of target practice to reach your goal?

Micah bow and arrow

Here’s my lesson on how to reach a goal with a whole lot of target practice.

The dawn of day has yet to crack, the chickens are still snoring, and I awake to the sound of rubber slamming glass at record high speeds.  Snap. Donk!  Snap. Donk! Again and again. “What in the world?!” I say as I run to the kitchen.

And there she is.  Brown hair, bright eyes, and every bit of bushy-tailed. A brand spanking new 5-year-old holding her brand new bow.  And not the girley-girl, big bodacious hair bow kind. I’m talking about the real deal. Her current weapon of choice. All pearly plastic with suction cup tips.

“What are you DOING?!” I ask and glare with stinging, sleep-deprived eyes.  Doe-eyed but willful, she responds, “I just can’t even help myself from shooting it, I just love it so much! I gotta get that circle!”  Pause.  Now for the kicker.  She adds, “And YOU gave it to me!” No, she didaaant!  But wait a minute, I sure did. I gave her the bow AND the gumption.

“Oh, girl,”  I sigh. She’s got me, but even more, He’s got me.  Point made. Right on target. What a picture.  Scotch-taped to the window.   I’m sleeping while she’s aiming.  And she ‘aint stopping ’til she gets it.  She’s got an early morning date with destiny.  A big red dot ready for her mark and her initials carved right in the center of fear and failure.  They taunt and they tease.  Then she shuts them up and smacks ’em down with the end of a well-aimed suction cup. And then again.  And again.  She’ll aim dead center for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So where’s your mark?  What’s your big red dot?  Write it down.  And you plaster and paste it for your eyes to see.  Visualize the target day in and day out. Whether it’s a goal, a quota, a number or theme.  A yearly resolution or a daily devotion.  Believe more.  Then doubt less and fast fear. Give them up, lay them down, and pick Him up.  Have a CROSSbow moment.

How are you gonna hit the target? You’re going to use the gifts He gave you.  And if what’s on that list, that goal, that number, is for your good to display His glory, chances are, He’s the one who gave it to you in the first place.  And He gave you the gifts to get it done.  For first place.  And while you hold them in your hand, you remember that He’s got your initials engraved in the palm of his.

My girl’s aiming for a red dot on a window. I’m aiming with God’s red letters shot straight to the heart. Now you give it all you got.  And you got this. Because He has you.  He’s got you in His sights, and girlfriend, He plays for keeps. He aims to win. Your heart and those all around YOUR circle. Pull back, hold steady, aim high.  But look straight ahead.  Don’t turn to the left or the right.  Eyes on the circle and the prize. Now let it go. Whoosh!  You got it!  Now keep going.  Again. And again.

Practice Reminders: (Again and again. And again.)

And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Habakuk 2:2

Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful…Deut. 8:18

Every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:17

See, I have engraved you in the palms of my hands…Isaiah 49:16

So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Deut. 5:32

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:14

Micah target


Still in Need of Training Wheels


“Thank God for training wheels!”  That was my recent exclamation when my little speed racer took her first topple on wheels.  Her confidence and pride are reluctantly recovering now.   She’s skittish of turns and her hope is more hesitant.  But it’s still there.

What she’d really like is for me to walk alongside her, hold onto her handlebars, and never let go.  Truth is, today on her 5th birthday and every day after, I’d kind of like to do that as well.  Then I’m reminded that I can’t ride it for her.

But I sure can relate.  Most days I’d like for God to ride this life out for me, too. Yet He allows me to do the heavy peddling, while He guides and steers the way.  When I let Him.

All the while our sweet Heavenly Father keeps His hand securely on us. Even on days when it seems as though He might’ve taken it from us, we can trust that it’s just to show us how to use the strength He’s given us.  To put faith to peddle and muscle to might.  Here is where we regain our confidence and our grin, all the while trusting in Him.

Besides His hand and His presence, I’m also learning to lean on what I overlooked before.  The training wheels. Steady and true.

Much like my daughter, I didn’t pay them much mind. They’re hard to see and easy to miss with eyes locked on shiny new paint and sparkling streamers flowing from  handlebars just calling your name.  And when she took that hot-pink wonder for a spin, she was too busy looking up, mindless of what steadied her.

Isn’t that what we do as well?  When we’re riding high, full speed ahead, we pay little mind to what steadies us. Until we’re halted. Until we fall.

I think God uses ‘training wheels’ to coax us back up and get us back going.   As I fly through life,  caught up in the sparkles or down in the dumps, I want an awareness of the sturdy support He provides through those that uphold me.  The friends. The family.  The ones that encourage and assure me, when I’d surely topple on my own.

With texts and calls saying simply, “Just thinking of you. Keep going, don’t give up.” And the prayers that I didn’t even ask for.  That I’ll never even know about. Until I need them.  When I almost fall, but don’t.

Pulling over to the side now for a thankful pause.   Lord, help me to see those that fade into the background to help push me forward in my faith.  Bless them right back.

And If you’ve put motion to my wheels and helped me with your prayers, check your phone.  That’s me texting you.  Just to say thank you (TY in texting terms).  From the top of my head, through the bottom of my heart, and down to my peddling toes, thank you.

How to Ride a Bike (Write a Blog) in a Day

bike blog 1


For Christmas my four-year-old received the best gift ever (“Ev. Er!” she said). A handy dandy, hot-pink princess bike with all the bells and whistles. A formidable first. First bike. First ride. First racing heartbeat as she set off alone into the wild blue yonder. And by that, I mean just around the cul-de-sac. Hey, that’s tough terrain for a first-timer.

There she went, in pure awe of her self-accomplishment, belly giggling the whole way. If I could bottle her sheer joy and excitement, I’d swig it all day long. I watched as she peddled at awfully high speeds, conquering the wind. Repaving the roads. Nothing could go wrong. Until it did.

She encountered a crack in the pavement and a twist in her flawless route. Blindsided by a dip in the road, she veered off track. And that unforeseen, rocky descent took her balance and her confidence with it, and then ruthlessly stole her newfound zeal.

“If only I’d been holding those handlebars,” I thought. Yet she’d beckoned me to stand back. “She had this.” So I held my breath as she held my heart. Standing a few arms’ lengths away, I rushed in to scoop her up and dust her off. I then muffled her wails and hugged her bruises, inside and out. Both of us were keenly aware of the few onlookers, so I bandaged her pride with my words and whispered, “It’s OK. EVERYbody falls down.”

And then we both had a choice. To scrap the bike and head indoors, or set back on the course, placing the accident in the rearview mirror, and focusing on the horizon of hope straight ahead. We chose the latter. Thankfully.

For those like me, 2013 was an accidental blur, or a bumbling blur of accidents. Some ups, but mostly downs. I certainly fell off this new blog nearly as soon as I hopped on. Biting the dust and suffering some scrapes in more ways than one. At the close of 2012 I unexpectedly watched my mom close her eyes into eternity as I opened mine to a haze of grief.

And I’ve sure stayed down far longer than my 4-year-old cyclist. Perhaps I got a little too comfy in the dirt. Until I hit the crossroads of 2013 and 2014. The CROSSroad. Where fear and faith collide, but where love always presides. The choice is mine while the answer is His. So I choose to stand up. Right here where a Heavenly Father scoops me up and sets me back on a purpose-filled path. Right here. As that still, small voice with bandaging words says, “Write here.”

So this is how I’ll learn to ride (write) a bike (a blog) in a day:
(Insert your goal here:______________________)

1. Stay in arms’ reach of the Father.
2. Anticipate the inevitable falls.
3. Even more, anticipate an unfailing Savior.
4. Get back up and on.
5. Know that it’s never too late to start again.
6. Encourage others to do the same.
7. And ask for others to ride along–for the pit stops and the pitfalls.

So back on the bike (blog) we go. Ride on girlfriend! Write on!