Howdy from Nashville! This “honky tonk town” is full of big city surprises — all good so far. I toured the Belle Meade Plantation, the Ryman Auditorium (where I saw kd lang perform), the Nashville Farmer’s Market and the Country Music Hall of Fame. In a couple hours I’ll hoof it to the Parthenon (an exact replica of the one in Greece) and Uber it to the Grand Ole Opry.
The best part was packing for the trip here. I travel light: two small backpacks that I carry on to the plane. Both are light and easily stowed away on board.
I actually didn’t think I could spend nine nights in Nashville with two school-sized backpacks! The purpose of my trip is the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference; I can look like a hobo wandering Nashville, but not at the formal Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. I’m meeting with my literary agent and visiting with authors such as Liz Curtis Higgs and Debbie Macomber. I’ll be talking to publishers, editors, lawyers and publicists.
Also, there’s a big formal Gala at the end of the conference. I hear the other writers talk about clothes, shoes, hats and accessories. Sparkles and glitz.
That’s when I decided to loosen the chains.
The shoes were the deal-breaker. I love my neon orange runners because I can walk for months without Bumpy the Bunion grumbling in pain. But they’re neon orange and they’re sneakers — how could I possibly wear them to a writer’s conference?
If I took an extra pair of shoes, I’d have to upgrade to my serious-travel backpack. The mother backpack that has to be checked. Checking it would cost me an extra $25 and be a pain in the tush.
So I paused. “Why do I feel compelled to take an extra pair of shoes?” I asked myself.
“Because I care what people think about me.” I answered.
Snap! Decision made. The extra shoes stayed home and I’m happily hoofing around Nashville in neon orange running shoes. Later today I’ll be registering for the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Conference at the Gaylord Opry Resort in those trusty old shoes.
Because I don’t want to be chained by what people think about me. I choose freedom and authenticity. I choose to travel light.
What chains are holding you down?
When you’re struggling with or even just considering a decision, ask yourself why you feel compelled one way. Then ask why again. And again.
Imagine, for example, you’re struggling to get over a loss or betrayal. You’ve been stuck in grief, pain, or even self-pity for months. Years. You are chained by your own thoughts and emotions.
Why can’t you let go? What are you holding on to? Why aren’t you free?
Write down your thoughts. Writing slows you down and forces you to think about your life, yourself, your relationships.
Don’t stop at the first answer that pops into your head. It’s easy to say, “I can’t get over this loss because he meant everything to me,” or “I’m too old to start over, to have a new relationship, job or life.” Again, ask yourself why he meant everything to you. Why would you give that power to a man? Ask yourself why you think you’re too old. Who are you giving power to?
Ask for help seeing and breaking the chains.
Your freedom is a gift from God – and it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Your faith and beliefs are a blessing. All you have to do is keep showing up and asking the Holy Spirit for truth, wisdom, and guidance.
I love how Jesus requires us to participate, act, and step out in faith! It’s us and Him, walking forward together. Shoes or sandals, fast or slow, up or down hills…He is always beside us. All we have to do is take His hand.
This means different things to different people. What does “taking His hand and stepping forward in faith” mean to you?
Whether you’re struggling with something heavy like grief or light like orange sneakers, ask for help breaking the chains. Asking yourself why you’re allowing yourself to keep wearing the chains is a good first step…but the life-saving step is to turn to God.
Sometimes you just have to ache towards Jesus.
Point those crazy orange shoes towards your Savior, and you’ll never get lost. You may wander, but you won’t be lost.
With His love,
Travel in Faith and Blossom
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