“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.”

Matthew 11:28-30

I love to travel. That love did not start until I was thirty and heading to Scotland for my wedding. This was my first time heading out of the country! Until then, I was quite the homebody except for a few trips to the Florida Keys and Bahamas with my family. Oh, and maybe a trip out west to go skiing once or twice. However, for the most part I stayed close to home.

Today, if you say the word airplane, trip, or travel, I’m booked and ready! One of the challenges of traveling is packing the perfect suitcase and traveling light. For me, that means that no matter where we go or for how long, we only travel with a carry-on bag and a tote. Yes, one bag and one tote even when there are multiple shoes to pack. You laugh and ask, “How is that possible?”

Many years ago, our family packed up for a month and back-packed our way through Europe. We called ourselves The Traveling Six. Prior to that, I had a crazy dream to take off for a year with my husband and four young children to travel the world. We spent months with a travel agent mapping out our course. The caveat was, to financially take off, we also had to rent our home for the year. We gave ourselves a date by which we had to “rent to go,” but the date came and went without a soul who would move into our house for the year. Although we had been fervently praying for God’s will and surrendered everything to Him about our trip, the day we decided to cancel our year-long dream I did have a little pity party for myself. However, I found peace in knowing that God would direct our steps no matter what.

Soon after making the decision to cancel, my husband sat next to me late on a Wednesday night and said, “Well, we are booked. We leave next Thursday for a month. We fly into Milan, and 30 days later we fly out of London. In between, I have NO idea where we are going! I am going to bed…we can discuss it tomorrow!” WOW, so now let’s pack for a month-long journey with 4 young kids in tow…The Traveling Six are hitting the road!

A friend of mine always laughed at me when I was preparing for a trip. I would spend weeks before the trip carefully packing and repacking. I’d take out all the unnecessary items that I thought were useful but when I could not close the bag, became a burden. This time, we only had a few days to get organized for our incredible journey. We traveled light with one carry-on and one backpack each for the entire month-long trip. As I write this blog, several years have passed and I am thinking over the past hour as I travel to the Gift Market for a week. Scurrying through the TSA lines and fighting the crowds at the airport, my bags seemed a little heavier than normal. It could be the acrylic products in the bottom of the bags, but it also makes me pause to survey my life and all the things that might be weighing me down. The unnecessary ‘stuff’ that needs to be dumped out of my life. Dumping some unforgiveness. Maybe unpacking some doubt that got stuck in there somewhere. Taking out fear that got stuck in the bottom. Whatever it might be, I know that I have a God who wants me to release all my burdens to Him.

Packing light gives us freedom in our travels. I also believe that when we dump the unnecessary things that we carry around with us, we gain freedom in Christ. “Dumping” gives us the freedom to become more like Him. It allows His spirit to shine forth in our lives, which fills us up with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

When we make room for HIM, we make room for His spirit to dwell in us and we can travel throughout this world shining HIS light to all…

I have a few questions for you today:

How do you travel?

Me: I always take a carry-on bag and a tote.

What is your favorite suitcase?

Me: I’ve yet to find one I love, but please share your suggestions!

What is your favorite hack for packing?

Me: I love to roll my clothes tight…or packing cubes are great!

How many shoes do you usually pack?

Me: I always pack too many but wear them all. The most I have ever packed was 6!! 

What is your bucket list trip?

Me: My dream trip is going to Africa. I want to see all the animals and paint them! Have you seen our LITTLES line? I love all the animals and there is so much more to come!

What needs to be dumped out of your life?

Me: Daily, if I am honest, everything from unforgiveness to fear! One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me!”

Now for some pictures from Dallas market!

Anne Neilson smiling

The Author: Anne Neilson

Read more