Setting Down What Weighs us Down

It’s easy, when attempting to be prepared for any and every situation, to pack too much in your suitcase before a big trip. My husband rolls his eyes and reminds me that we’re not going to the middle of nowhere and that there are stores where I can purchase anything I may need. Oh, yeah; I knew that. Today’s devotional, reposted from Holley Gerth, offers a vital, timely lesson about traveling light in this life.


My parents still tell the story of how I, at six years old, marched right up to the airline counter and demanded the plane arrive soon because I was ready to go see my grandparents. I have no recollection of this audacity, only the memory of my hand wrapped around the handle of a small red suitcase. I don’t remember the contents, whether I packed dolls or tennis shoes, books or candy bars. But I must have traveled light because I carried it on the plane all by myself.

I think we, as children, start out this way. We don’t have much to weigh us down. Then the years go by and there’s life and hurt and responsibilities. Before we know it we no longer have a little red suitcase. We have the kind as wide as the side of a bus that gets a “heavy” sticker slapped on it.

Does it really have to be this way?

This is what I sat down with my friends Jennifer Watson and Suzie Eller to discuss in our latest More Than Small Talk Video. We said that we serve a Savior who tells us, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30). Then we asked each other, “How can we begin to set down what weighs us down? We talked through the three steps below as a starting place

It seems the first step is the courage to let go. We have a good reason for everything we’ve placed in our suitcase. We want to keep it safe. Or we think it proves our worth. We think we just can’t live without it. It takes guts to pause and ask, “What’s one thing I need to move forward without? When I answer this question it usually takes grit and tears and counseling. This is all bravery. 

Then we can look at what’s left and decide what’s not only appealing but essential. Perhaps we don’t need the ten pairs of sandals, although they’re all just so cute. We can review our crowded calendars, our long to-do lists, our honorable intentions. We can ask God, “What’s not just good but Your very best?” We can hold onto that and know we’re free to set aside the rest.

Finally, it’s also important to know where we’re going in this season of life. Alaska requires different attire than Hawaii. Raising toddlers takes different resources than transitioning into retirement. We can evaluate, “What might be wonderful for another destination but not for where I’m going right now in my life?” It’s okay for some things not to be in our suitcase. It’s just not their turn right now.


That day in the airport I eventually boarded the plane and sat in a row of fellow six year-olds {remember when children traveled alone like this?}. We were served a beverage of choice. My seatmates chose ginger ale, which I scandalously believed to contain alcohol. I virtuously chose Sprite.

The plane touched down and there, right at the end of the jetway {remember when you could greet planes right at the gate?}, were my grandparents. They reached out first for a hug. Then my Grandpa, so strong and good, took the suitcase from my hands.

This is our story too. “Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you” {1 Peter 5:7}. This is the ultimate truth and life-changer: When life gets heavy, we can hand off our suitcase.

My Grandpa knew I would need my hands free for what was to come–eating salty waffle fries from my favorite restaurant, picking up shiny quarters from the bottom of the deep end of the pool, holding a flashlight so I could read under the covers at night.

Children seem to understand the less you carry the easier it is to grab on to joy.

I’m learning this all over again too.


Holley Gerth

(c) 2017 Holley Gerth Used with Permission Source:


We apologize for not having sermons posted the last few weeks. They should be back up and running this coming weekend. Don’t forget to visit the Publications page to read the weekly bulletins and the Events page to see what’s coming up next at JCC. If you live in the Anchorage area come on over Sunday mornings at 10:30 AM for a fantastic weekend worship service.

Go to Church, Take a Prayer Walk, Do a Prayer Dance

It’s always a good idea to prepare in advance for hard times – the proverbial saving for a rainy day thing. It’s pretty hard to condition yourself for harsh conditions when you’re in the middle of them. Today’s devotional, reposted from, reminds us of the importance of having our feet firmly planted in God and rooted in the family of God before the hard things of life come.

Planted, Plugged In, and Prepared A while back I saw a 60 Minutes special on a free diver named William Trubridge, who goes to extreme depths in the ocean on a single breath. It is incredibly dangerous. He descends 331 feet below the surface — twice the height of the Statue of Liberty — witha href=’’ title=’Read more’ …/a

Source: Go to Church, Take a Prayer Walk, Do a Prayer Dance

Unpack Your Bags

Rejection is a dreadful thing, and living in fear of being rejected is even worse, constantly waiting for the proverbial “other shoe” to drop. When a person has been scarred by a lifetime of rejection it can be just about impossible for them to believe that there could really be someone out there who will never ever reject them, never leave or forsake them. Today’s devotional shares a powerful picture of the love that will not reject us or let us go.

“Jimmy Wayne never knew his father. His mom spent more time in prison than out. When he was twelve years old, she was released from jail”and took up with a troublemaker. They loaded Jimmy into the backseat of the Olds Delta 88, and for a year the car was his home. “It had bench seats and smelled like body odor,” remembers Jimmy. They drove from city to city, avoiding the police.

After miles of drifting they dumped Jimmy in the parking lot of a Pensacola, Florida, bus station and drove off. He was thirteen years old. He had no home. No future. No provision. One day while wandering through a neighborhood, he spotted an older man who was at work in a garage wood shop.

He approached the elderly gentleman and asked if the man had any read more



The Good Shepherd

Many of us are familiar with the 23rd Psalm. It was one of the first scripture passages we memorized as kids in vacation Bible school or Sunday School. Today’s devotional brings us back to this comforting psalm to remind us of God’s loving care for each of us.


I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. — John 10:11



A bad shepherd lets his sheep stray. He neglects the flock, allowing the sheep to graze in bad fields or experience life-threatening thirst. He beats the lambs to teach submission and obedience. He isn’t alert to predators, allowing them to get too close to the sheep. Clearly, he doesn’t care much about the welfare of his sheep.

But Jesus is the opposite, rightly calling Himself the good Shepherd. When a sheep strays, He goes out looking for that wanderer, searching until He finds it and rejoicing when He does. He stays up during the read more



Synchronized Harmony

Today’s devotional offers a beautiful picture illustrating the importance of hearing the “still, small voice” as we live out our Christian life.


When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. — John 16:13

While hiking in the lower elevations of the Alps, I saw small white clumps of sheep


ID 87827543 © Panaramka | Dreamstime

darting back and forth in the distance. Suddenly, among all the white spots I noticed a black border collie tenaciously herding the sheep. At first glance it appeared that the border collie was running randomly, chasing the flock around. It appeared that he was simply wearing the sheep to exhaustion. Upon closer examination, I noticed a man with a walking stick perhaps as far as half a mile away paying close attention to the collie. How was the collie receiving its directives from this shepherd? I stood very still and listened. Soon I heard a read more

source: Ministry Today

Feeling Invisible

Not everyone can be front and center all of the time. Our culture puts a high value on what is seen, though, and when we feel like we aren’t seen we may feel less than valuable. As with most things, however, God’s viewpoint is quite different from our  modern culture. In God’s kingdom culture those things which aren’t seen tend to have a much higher value than those that are seen. Today’s devotional drives that point home.


“I set up a camera stand in my dining room and place my smart phone on it. I’ve thought of cancelling this live video a thousand times already. I run through the reasons why in my mind: “I’m a mess. I won’t have anything to offer. God can’t use me when I feel weak.”

But deep inside a voice seems to whisper, “Just show up.” Before I hit the red button I pray, “Lord, speak through my lips what I need to hear, too.” I tell almost 2,000 women in the You’re Already Amazing Summer Study that it has been a hard week. I bow my head and we pray together across miles and continents. I’m reminded that God said He would be where two or more are gathered and somehow read more