The Year of 40: Perfect timing

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

by Christie Browning

I don't know if it's supposed to go down this way... this might be a symptom of a midlife crisis. During the months leading up to my turning 40 and since, I have felt pressed for time. I'm feeling rushed... like time is running out to get done all that I feel is meant for me to accomplish while I exist on the green side of the grass. To top it off, my husband is a walking abacus, constantly adding up the amount of money we need to save for retirement and reminding me of how fast that time is approaching. 

It's like that part in the movie when the characters know they have minutes left to live... the air is running out, or the water is growing deeper, or the threat is drawing closer. I sort of feel like I am gasping for air, kicking hard to tread water, pushing my legs to run faster. Just writing this is making me feel anxious and my fingers are typing faster... I feel as if there is a real ticking timer on my shoulder, and it's going to sound its alarm any time. 

perfect timing.png

Don't mistake this as a death or mortality issue. It really comes back to knowing there is so much I want to do in life and feeling as if there is no time to do it. Truth be told, it really comes down to just one thing - my life's calling. Unlike my husband, I don't worry about retirement dollars and if there is enough time to max out our Roth IRAs. I do worry about not completing the to-do list attached to a calling God has placed on my life -- to encourage, empower and inspire women to release their pasts, renew their faith in Him and revise their lives so that they can live in the true abundance God has for them. I know that's through speaking and writing -- I knew it as a senior in high school, but all I can think about lately are the wasted years and opportunities I let spoil. 

It actually makes me think about Moses when he was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. In Exodus 4, we can read about God's grand display of a burning bush that held His voice, calling Moses to act. However, Moses didn't respond with confidence. In fact, he did the opposite, quickly reminding God of the reasons he could not fulfill this calling.

Lysa Terkeurst, the founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, wrote in a devotional aimed at God-given callings:

"Moses doubted God has created him for the calling God gave him. When we doubt we have what it takes for us to do what God calls us to do, we are doubting His creative abilities. He knew from the beginning of time what He would call you to do and therefore how you would need to be formed. God does everything with purpose and precision. The exact way He made you is in keeping with how He will use you."

I found this statement very reassuring, and I think it applies to areas of my heart and yours. For Moses, it was about trusting God gave him the right vocabulary and eloquence needed to complete the task. For you, it might be believing and trusting that God gave you the right talents, resources, or skillsets. It may be more about believing God has placed you in the right church, community or workplace for your calling. Or you could be like me and need to trust that God has the right timing in mind to use you... even if the realization of your calling and the confidence to go after it comes at 40. The perfect calling for the perfect person at the perfect time, created and made perfect through a loving Father.

It took a lot of courage for me to start sharing my life's journey... I guess it wasn't much of a story until I had spent years learning, growing and gaining a few bumps along the path in order to share with you the perspective that would make an impact. I may be 40, but I don't think God is done with me just yet. I can also take heart in the knowledge that God is not limited by our timeframes or our resources. He only needs a willing heart and an obedient spirit. I've got that... let the calling begin.

  • What's been a time in your life where you've hesitated in obeying God's call to do something because insecurities were getting in the way?
  • What's a time where you took one step of obedience despite your insecurities, and how God was with you during that leap of faith?

The Year of 40: The secret to a little sanity

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

by Christie Browning

It's been a busy twelve months. I know I share that sentiment frequently, but seriously... it's been a crazy year.

A year ago I started working full time again - after having a few years off from the full-time grind. I never imagined how much of a change that would make on my day...not just the working hours of my day, but all the surrounding hours as well! Now I can barely find time to return a text message, get on the phone and chat it up with my momma or find some quiet time to read a good book and regroup. And the few hours in my day that aren't prepopulated with a million to-dos and have-tos, I don't want to do any of that stuff I can't seem to find time to do... I just want to shut the world out, turn off my mind and my cell phone and mindlessly watch reruns of Gilmore Girls. Does this resonate with anyone else?

Even the weekends are packed with a laundry list of things to get done -- like, the LAUNDRY! There's no time during the week, so Saturday becomes house cleaning and laundry day. My stepson is at the house on the weekends and so there's usually some time carved out for us as a family, which is my favorite part of the weekend. Between paying bills and grocery shopping, the Saturday hours are quickly filled. Sundays are already planned with church and then we usually get my stepson back to his mom in the early evening. Before I know it, the weekend is gone and all I've managed to get done is a load of whites! Seriously, someone please tell me you feel the same strain on your time!


I've been overwhelmed. I've been in a real need of a "pause" button....maybe more like a "power-off" button! And to top it all off, I can tell a difference now that I am a bit older...the ol' mind and body just don't have the same stamina as my 20-year-old self. Now before you all start sending me samples of the latest energy supplement or dietary fix that will make me feel 10 years younger, let me just say this is a case for the heart and spirit....not the body. 

Although things have been hectic, I have survived and on some days, I might even flourish, thrive and really shine. So what's the secret to keeping my sanity in this crazy life? Well, it's journaling. 

I've been journaling since I was 13. I was given a journal for my birthday and that began a lifelong way for me to write out my prayers, my fears, my joys and so many things in between. If you've followed me at all, you know that I preach the power of journaling, but lately I've taken it a step further with a more focused approach. This focused four-question formula was necessary for a few reasons:

1) I wasn't making time to journal every day. I was letting the busyness of life over take my journal and quiet time.

2) When I did find time to write, I was writing the same old stuff.... whining and complaining about the same old thing.

3) I was stuck on all that was bringing me down and missing the joy, the learning and the progression that life's journey provides.

So.... here's the four question formula that's made all the difference in my journaling time.

1) What was the best part of my day? How did God show up in my day?

2) What made me sad, mad or frustrated today?

3) What lesson do I think God is trying to show me?

4) What is one question or request I am looking for God to answer?

That's it. It's that simple. But don't dismiss the power of these simple questions. What I have found as I answer these four questions each day, is that so much of my heart is opened up. I have had to stop and really think about what is truly great in my sometimes mundane days. I've had to make my heart and head recognize where God is in my days. When I would blow past the lessons in life over being caught up in all that isn't right or isn't going my way, now I can see a pattern of the virtues God is trying to teach me and make me more aware of. My last question isn't about whining to a Heavenly Father like a toddler who isn't happy. It's a question met with expectation.... with excitement and anticipation of the blessings, answers and direction I know my Heavenly Father wants to give me. 

This has been a game changer for me... and I've only been at it for a few weeks. I can't imagine in 30 days what revelations or heart-changers that might come out. Do you want to join me in this exercise? It's easy... just grab a pen, a notebook and start answering the questions. I'd love to hear your thoughts!! Leave a comment and share away!

The Year of 40: Learning to sing again

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

I was about three or four-years-old when I took the stage to sing for my first audience. That stage was the brick hearth of my grandparents' fireplace and my audience was comprised of adoring parents and family members. I sang God only knows what, but that became the beginning of my years spent singing. 

When my soul is down, I lift my voice in praise to you, Heavenly Father.jpg

As I grew up my house was always full of music. From my grandmother singing old hymns and made-up silly songs at her kitchen sink to my dad strumming his guitar and singing some gospel favorites, there was always a tune to be heard in my house. I remember spending many evenings propped up next to my dad singing along with him. At a very young age I started singing at church and I held the main solo in my Kindergarten graduation program. Although my junior high and high school time was structured around band, I logged many hours in my church choir singing solos and special numbers on Sunday mornings. It didn't come to anyone's surprise when I dropped out of college to join a Christian music tour, ready to devote my voice to the One who'd blessed me with it. 

After some time on the road, I brought my talent home to Indiana and went back to singing on Sunday mornings, now with a praise team since churches had long since put aside the hymnals. I picked up the guitar and played with a few bands and even scored a soprano spot in our local Philharmonic organization. It was my vocal director that took an interest in my talent and saw my soprano range as a natural asset that could be cultivated. After a few months of working together, he coaxed me into recording a demo to submit to an open call for the Boston Opera chamber music series. Only eight vocalists would be selected to join the nationwide tour, but my director thought I had a real chance at landing a spot on the tour. 

I'll never forget the day he called me to tell me I was a front runner for one of two soprano spots. I couldn't believe it! I was so shocked, you could've knocked me over with a half note. Well, fast-forward a few weeks and I had to submit another taped demonstration of my abilities, but as I prepared for that recording session, there was a voice that kept telling me all the reasons why I wouldn't make it, couldn't make it, was wasting my time, would just embarrass myself... and so on. This was not self-doubt talking. This was an actual person in my life who belittled my God-given talent so much that I actually bought into the lies, backed out of the audition and within two years, I had quit singing altogether. 

Believe me when I say I quit singing... I mean I quit singing... on a stage, in the shower, in the car. I went through some of the hardest times in my life without a single note being sung. For five years I didn't sing. 

Once I met and married Mat, a music lover as well, he began to slowly coax a little sing-song out of me. He applauded my talent and encouraged me to use it. Of course, it took more than a little singing around the house to overwrite the hurt and fear that had taken root for those silent years. But... last year at Christmas it happened... I sang. 

It was Christmas morning, on a Sunday, and the church I had just joined that spring had a choir pulled together for Christmas service. It was just a few weeks of rehearsal leading up to the big day, but in that time, I had been asked to sing the solo for one of the choral pieces we were to present. The sanctuary was packed and for the first time in a long time, I was very nervous to sing. The song was being played and my time had come to sing. I took a breath and the first several notes came out. The sound of the instruments and other voices supporting me mixed with my own voice and I was overwhelmed with emotion. It felt so good to be doing something I had loved so much. 

I don't plan to join a tour and hit the road at all. But in the past year, I've slowly allowed myself to be vulnerable in that talent of mine. I fill my car with music in the morning, singing as I commute to work. I look forward to the hymns we sing on Sunday and the choir practice that follows church. I was recently asked to prepare a solo for an upcoming Sunday service. I don't expect any fame or glory to come from my vocal endeavors, in fact, that's not my motivation in the slightest. No, my reason is to glorify God - to take something He gave me and offer it back to Him in a form or adoration and love that just happens to come with an accompaniment. Looking back on my 40 years of life, my fondest most precious memories are rooted in music. I am so thankful that Heavenly Father finds ways to soften our hearts and call us out of hiding so that we can live in the talents, gifts and abilities He has given us. It's not a Grammy... but it feels good just to be singing.

The Year of 40: Just over a week in

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

It's been a little over a week since my 40th birthday.... and so far, I've survived with no midlife crisis or mettle-downs. It doesn't take a milestone birthday for me to get reflective, but I have to say the week leading up to my birthday, and this week included, I've been replaying the past 12 months in my mind:

  • August 2016 - I closed a business and moved reVision's office back to my home. Also Mat and I began the Total Money Makeover journey to get out of debt (see Dave Ramsey for more on this awesome financial plan.) $50K+ to pay off.
  • September 2016 - Had my first speaking engagement in front of a college-aged audience and I gave my first talk during Sunday service at my church.
  • October 2016 - started working full time in a whole new industry I've not been previously exposed to, for a very fast-paced environment that requires every skill set I've ever developed and then some.
  • November 2016 - Thanksgiving was quiet with time spent with immediate family around my father-in-law who was fighting cancer.
  • December 2016 - I sang a solo in our church's Christmas service... the first time in 4 years that I've sung in public. It was scary... but felt great. 
  • January 2017 - Rang in the new year with my parents in Tennessee on a much-needed visit with the family. Mat is hospitalized for severe bronchitis. A week after returning to work, he lands back in the ER after breaking a rib from coughing so hard.
  • February 2017 - I received an invitation to be one of three leaders in my church's women's organization. I was humbled...still can't figure out "why me?" but I am happy to serve where God has placed me and hope to challenge the women in our church to push outside the box to embrace a vibrant, abundant life with God.
  • March 2017 - Finally a month where Mat and I aren't sick since the beginning of the year! Thankful for healing!
  • April 2017 - Spent a really fun weekend with a bunch of great ladies at Time Out For Women, a women's retreat focused on spiritual growth. Made some new friends and laughed...A LOT! I also got the opportunity to speak at my church's district event for women. After about 7 months of the Total Money Makeover, we've paid off $11K+ and have built an emergency savings fund and cash-flowed several car repairs.
  • May 2017 - Wrote the first three chapters of my latest book and submitted my book proposal to a publisher. Hit a few more financial goals. My father-in-law is hospitalized in his fight against cancer.
  • June 2017 - Summer is here! Headed to the gym to start my workout routine.
  • July 2017 - Mat takes a leave of absence from work to offer day-time care to his dad who is no longer able to care for himself. Later that month, on July 28th, he passed away from cancer. Mat and I celebrate 4 years together.
  • August 2017 - The memorial service for my father-in-law is held. It was a perfectly planned celebration of his life with lots of laughs and special memories. Yep...this is the month I turned 40! I have to say it is by far the best birthday I've had as an adult. So many great friends and people I care about showed up in their own ways to celebrate with me and I felt, and still feel, incredibly loved and blessed.

It's been a full year stacked with sweet memories, hard times, quiet moments and laugh-out-loud experiences that will be retold for years to come. A special thanks to a few people:

  • My parents who gave me life, raised me and sculpted my persona to be who I am today. Thank you for always loving me, believing me and for being the plumb line I've held my self against for years.
  • My family, near and far, who love me. You are all cherished and dear to me.
  • My sweet sisters at church who love on me, support me and encourage me deeply. You are examples of authentic, Godly women who chase after the things that matter most. Thank you for being part of my heart's journey and growth.
  • ....and most importantly, my husband - the love of my life. Thank you for taking a chance on this crazy gal you stumbed upon four years ago; for loving even the damaged, bruised parts of me; for not letting me slide in the background and become less than what God wants me to be. You make the next 40 years of life worth looking forward to!

The Year of 40: The countdown begins!

by Christie Browning

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

T-minus 25 days until I hit the big 4-0! Yep, August 26th I am officially 40 years old! It's really hard to believe that my driver's license will indicate my four decades of life when in reality my mind still tells me I am 18. 

I decided several months ago that I was going to take a few days away from the office to celebrate my birthday. Now, I have no idea what I will be doing during those days... it may be binge watching "Gilmore Girls" or spending time reading a good book. Who knows? I am totally open to your suggestions! Please feel free to leave yours in the comments.

In all seriousness, it's been a really busy year and the thought of having a day to myself - to not watch the clock, rush off to an appointment, or stick close to my cell phone - that sounds like Heaven!

Distractions and busy-ness suck the life out of me. If anything is going to eat away at my purpose, my focus and my ambition it is becoming distracted and busy with things that don't matter in the grand scheme of life. Before I know it, 40 years have gone by and I wonder what I have to show for it. So many good intentions left to sour, so many great ideas that never took root. 

This morning I was listening to a podcast interview with the two guys who are responsible for the Oolah Life movement - a push for better life balance. As they unpacked their story of uncovering a life that is full of all the things they love, they shared one aspect of their plan for better balance -- identifying where they are, where they want to go and what it takes to get there for seven areas of life. 

Honestly, as I listened to the interview I thought, "This sounds great, but I can't even get one area of life on track. How can I focus on seven?!" As the interview continued, the two balance gurus offered some key tips on developing these seven areas of life. Most of the interview can be boiled down into one word - "Intentional." Instead of wandering through life chasing after all things shiny and new, what if every aspect of our daily life was met with intent - with a plan to be present, be purposeful and to push every drop of goodness out of that aspect of living.

It seems that if we could be intentional in this style of life, even when tough times hit, we could weather that season healthier and with more emotional stamina. The reality is... all seven of these areas impact each other. And yes, while it may be tough to keep all seven plates spinning, each spin fuels the next. Greater faith means better family and finances. When your fitness is in check, you can have more fun and run more after your field (career). See, it is all connected.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing to celebrate the big 40th birthday, but I can tell you that my birthday present just might be the Oola book for Women !

The Year of 40: How to make your mark

by Christie Browning

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

I wasn't very old when I started to realize I was going to live a unique life. I didn't think the same way as other kids or even play the same games. While other girls were playing "house" and pretending to be school teachers, I was pretending to interview my stuffed animals and host them on my imaginary talk show. 

Fast-forward 30 some years and I now know that God was preparing me for this ministry... this opportunity to share His message with women who want to know a real God, with real answers, who really loves them. 

I knew I would have a unique calling on my life and although it hasn't always been easy and I've done my fair share to mess it up, I know God is using me through that calling to reach women. No wonder this means so much to me:

Writer and speaker Elaine Dalton wrote in her book "No Ordinary Women"

"We are daughters of God. We are not ordinary women. We were born to be leaders. Yet the world would make you think that you are insignificant or that there is a certain mold you have to fit. We have been prepared and chosen and reserved to be here now, and that is a divine compliment. We are not here to sit back and be passive. We are here to lead. There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life-changing as the influence of a righteous woman."

My righteous influence came from a lot of different people in my life, especially my mother. Mom is a petite spit fire who is the perfect fit for our family make up. Growing up, Dad and I were always music driven, living large and definitely the dreamers in the family. My sister was creative and not afraid to be different and her true self, chasing after stray animals and nurturing everything that had breath. My brother was musically talented and extremely smart and comical. None of us were afraid to be noticed. None of us were shy.

Because of these over-the-top personalities, my mom sat in the background. Although she could hold her own around the house, taking charge and vocalizing the "mom voice" when we were out of line, she would often say she felt she didn't have a talent. Looking back at the times she made that statement, I think she was really asking... "what's my purpose?" "what am I here to do?"

Mom was here to be a righteous woman of influence. In her home, in her workplace.... mom never minced words when it came to her faith, values, and morals. She didn't waiver, she didn't gray the lines. You knew where she stood and that line didn't change often. She set an example of the perfect balance of strength and meekness. She knew how to be a strong woman with a voice but also how to be led by my dad. Mom taught us kids that all answers could be found in scripture, and she taught valuable life lessons from the Word as well. She was a righteous woman of influence.

Elaine Dalton also writes... "Mothers are the CEOs of a world-changing organization: the family and the home."

Now before you roll your eyes and think... "Great. Another canned, cookie-cutter 'moms are important' speech," let me show you the length of this impact.... at least from my mom's influence.

Of her three children, here's where we are today:

My sister, Lindsey, with her family on Easter. In addition to being a mom, she is the Children's Ministry director at her church. To learn more about the church where Lindsey serves, click here.

My sister, Lindsey, with her family on Easter. In addition to being a mom, she is the Children's Ministry director at her church. To learn more about the church where Lindsey serves, click here.

  • I am a writer and speaker, sharing God's message with women across the country. I've traveled and toured giving my testimony and have had the honor of introducing God to many hearts that have been changed. God has used me to influence lives that might not otherwise be receptive to a faith message, but because I can speak from the same amount of flaws and failures, there is a captive audience who sees God as a real, redeeming Father who loves and forgives.
  • My sister is an awesome mom. No doubt she learned from the best. Her mission, her calling in life, is to be a righteous influence in her family. She is married with three kids who she homeschools and is the Children's Ministry director at her church where she uses her righteous influence to impact little hearts for Christ. She inherited my mom's stance on values, morals, and beliefs  -- she is not easily swayed and builds her foundation on the Word, which in turn means her children do the same. Those kids of hers... well, God's gonna do something big with them because of what she has instilled in their hearts.
  • My brother is married to a righteous woman of influence. Much like my sister, she leads her home with God in the center. My brother takes after my dad, being a Godly husband and father leading his family. This has created a great opportunity for God to use them all for His purpose. Currently, the crew has relocated to Denver to help start a new church. It's a real-life missionary story and I can't imagine the lives and hearts they will change for the Kingdom.
My brother, Matt, and his family as they arrive in Denver for a church plant project. Matt and his crew relocated from Memphis to Denver, answering God's call to help with this new church plant. You can learn more about Journey Point Fellowship by clicking here.

My brother, Matt, and his family as they arrive in Denver for a church plant project. Matt and his crew relocated from Memphis to Denver, answering God's call to help with this new church plant. You can learn more about Journey Point Fellowship by clicking here.

I share all of this not to pump up my family to look great or to create a measuring stick by which you compare your life. Please don't do that. I could also fill this page with the mistakes and mess ups we have all had. However, what I want you to see is my mom, this "I don't have any talents" type of gal, used her righteous influence to reach the masses. Through her kids who she empowered to live for God, she is touching hearts and changing lives through a righteous ripple effect for which she will never see the end. Her mark in life was to create three lives, three hearts with three different passions that would be the perfect place for God to showcase His glory. 

There are times when I get discouraged about the little bit I feel I've been able to accomplish in my almost 40 years. I pour my heart onto a page or open up my story from a stage and the impact seems minuscule. I want so bad to do so much for God and yet I feel stuck, held back and without much influence. But then I look at my mom and I am reminded that God doesn't call us to change the world in one wave. He is looking for us to show up each day with the heart, the faith, and discipline to be the righteous women of influence He needs. And through daily steps and day-to-day actions, we can look back and see our mark for the Kingdom. Whether it's in our home, in our community, in our workplace or any other field of influence God has given us, we can be leaders who leave a mark for our Heavenly Father. 

Learn more about the Denver church plant, Journey Point Fellowship by clicking here.

Get more information about the church in Memphis my sister serves at by clicking here.

The Year of 40: Learning to love my failures

by Christie Browning

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

When it comes to the roadway of mistakes, I have logged a lot of miles and traveled far. My almost 40 years has been marked by bad decisions and failures. My knees are scraped and bruised from falling time and time again. 

Recently, I was chatting with a good friend about my turning 40 soon. She reminded me that at 40, half my life is over. We laughed at the little joke she was making at my age, but the reality is she's not far from the truth. For a moment, I felt panicked and for the first time, I could hear the clock ticking in my mind.... the sound of time running out. It got me thinking about days wasted and years spent making and paying for mistakes. 

Although hindsight is 20/20, and there are plenty of things I might choose to do differently if given the chance, I don't want to walk into my midlife milestone with regrets. In fact, I've made it my mission to live my life with passion and purpose... along the way, I hope to grab a few other gals to join me in living their lives the same way!

Theodore Roosevelt said, 

     "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

I LOVE that quote. It's from a speech he gave in Paris in 1910. Even though that was more than a century ago, the sentiment is timeless and resonates within me. Maybe it resonates with you?

LIfe, greatness, significance, purpose... it doesn't exist just for the critic or the perfect. It exists and counts for the one, like myself, who is a bit scrappy, who may be a bit war weary, who has scars and bruises to show for the times they have tried, failed and tried again. This is me. I stand dirty, tired, bruised, sweaty and a little bloody from life -- sometimes my own doing, sometimes not. I have mistakes and errors that would run 100 miles long and have come up short in the "get it right" department. But I have tried. I have picked myself up, dusted myself off, slapped a bandage on those cuts and fought, fought hard, to come back and try again. 

Why? Why fight, why try, why get up and go again? To be honest... there have been times when I have wanted to just lay down and give up. There was a specific time when I wanted to die... when I actually considered ending my life. But something, rather Someone, prompted my heart and reminded me that I was given life... and life abundant. I was promised a future with my Heavenly Father. I was created for a purpose, for a plan, and for a Kingdom influence. And I pulled, clawed, crawled my way back to the place where I could stand and face the next blow life wanted to throw at me. 

I remember a moment, very vividly in my mind, where things shifted from living in pity to walking in power. I was in month three of my one-year prison sentence. I had spent the night face down on the floor praying, crying out from the guts of my being and the depths of my soul for God to forgive me and to take His place in my life once again. When it was over and the prayer was done, I picked myself up and carried myself across the prison yard to my cell. I remember saying out loud...

"God, we have nine more months here together. Let's make them count. Whatever you're going to do in me, let's get to work because I am not leaving this place the same as I was when I got here."

I knew in that moment what Roosevelt said, that if I failed, at least I would fail while daring greatly. I was done living in passive, mediocre tones and with a fearful, timid spirit. I was the first person to make the #liverevised pledge... that I would be broken no more, but would embrace the redemption God offered me, that I would walk in the Truth of who I was created to be and that I would act like the daughter of the King. 

Looking back over the past 40 years, yes there are lots of mistakes, but with each one, I was gaining my power, my footing, my lesson. Looking to the next 40 years I know there will be more mistakes, but I am voraciously passionate about living these next 40 years always "daring greatly."

So, how about you? Will you join me in the #liverevised pledge, to live the life you were created for? You are not damaged goods. You have not fallen too far. You are not broken into so many pieces that Heavenly Father can't love you back to whole. The great thing about God... He's not a one-and-done type of Father. He has mercy and forgiveness and grace for you and for me... more than you could imagine. 

Need a fresh start? Ready embrace the life God created for YOU?

Check out the #liverevised movement and share it with a friend!

Click here to learn more!

The Year of 40: Everybody needs somebody sometime

by Christie Browning

The past couple of weeks it's been busy. By busy I mean, something-every-night, gotta-go-go-go, can't-catch-my-breath kind of busy. I have jumped from one appointment to the next. The office is buzzing throughout the day. My husband has been working a ton of hours and pulling six-day-a-week work weeks and sometimes seven. It's been nuts.

So it's no wonder that I had an emotional meltdown in the middle of the day. Yep, right there in between lunch and some afternoon clients, the waterworks came on and I had myself a good cry. Have you ever experienced this? I know I am not alone.

When life gets overwhelming, sometimes it's not until I've reached my limit before I recognize the state I'm in. Looking back on these hectic weeks, I had missed out on the things that keep me sane and grounded -- time reading my Bible, journaling and spending real time with my best friend and husband. 

Need to be better about managing your time and getting a hold on your life? Check out Christie's book "Kick The Clock" for a fresh new approach to time management. Click the image below to shop now!

Need to be better about managing your time and getting a hold on your life? Check out Christie's book "Kick The Clock" for a fresh new approach to time management. Click the image below to shop now!

Life gets tough, but we have to be tougher -- we have to do battle against mediocrity, busyness, mundane and lackluster living. That means knowing what really keeps our hearts filled and overflowing. What good things do we need to be feeding our souls and our minds? It may look a little different for everyone, but for me it starts with finding time in my day to slow down, creating room in my schedule for those life-giving things -- 

1) Reading and reflecting on scripture - I used to be disciplined to do this every morning. However, my schedule has shifted a bit and my mornings are now spoken for -- at the gym. It's been a bit of a competing schedule - I know I need to get to the gym and the mornings are the best time of day for me to do it, but that means giving up my quiet time in the early mornings. I know I have to reserve some time in the evening for this now, and I am still working on that.

2) Journaling - when I can empty my heart and mind of all that runs around in there... it is a good thing! You and I both know that when left on their own, emotions can take root and grow into ugly monsters. Thoughts can grab hold of our minds and twist our beliefs. Fears left unattended and without truth can begin to paralyze us. But when I journal.... I can pour out all of those emotions on paper. There's something freeing in my heart when I am not weighed down by the heaviness of life. I can gain perspective and clarity instead of living in noise and chaos.

3) Spending time with people who lift me up - for me that person is my husband. He is what keeps me together and allows me to be vulnerable and authentic. With him, I can speak out loud crazy ideas and high-in-the-sky dreams without the fear of being laughed at or judged. He is so patient with me... I have a million ideas every day, but he let's me talk through them, he champions the ones I really want to see happen and helps me think through my goals. Together we are always better -- that has been our mantra from the start. 

So what is it for you? I used to pride myself on my ability to just lower head and plow through the days, weeks and months. But I have realized lately that choosing to be a "go-get-em" type of gal is one thing... but living without connection, without feeling, without relationships not just with others but with my own self... well, that's not living at all. In my almost 40 years, it's taken me this long to learn to be OK with my crazy life and the needs I have to survive it.

The Year of 40: Lessons learned from a recovering alcoholic

by Christie Browning

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

Recently a couple happen to be in the office and we struck up a conversation about life experiences. They were a rather chatty pair and the type that loved to share. Since I hardly ever meet a stranger, this couple and I became fast friends and the conversation took a turn a bit more personal.

As it turns out, the husband was a recovering alcoholic and a big advocate for Alcoholics Anonymous. After years of drinking and bringing hardship to his family, his health, and his finances, he knew it was time for a change. Alcoholics Anonymous became the support he needed and his catalyst for transformation. It was hard for me to imagine that this friendly, high-spirited fella could easily be swayed into a drunken demise. He had shared his love for running, racing in marathons galore. He talked of sky-diving and the rush from jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. He relayed his experiences driving fast cars and facing no fear. But alcohol was his kryptonite - it's robbed him of so much and made him a slave to his addiction.

Now a sponsor and example to many in his AA group, he said he lives honestly, openly and with the accountability he needs in order to stay true to his recovery. But there was something so interesting when he described the faith part of his journey. It was profound, actually.  He said that at AA, the beauty is that everyone there is struggling with the same issue and is equally as flawed as the next person. There's comfort in that and there's a trust that allows barriers and walls to come down in order to allow for change.

I know I have been quick to grab those I love and push them into a pew on Sunday morning, hoping that the right message will spark an instantaneous change of the heart. And although I believe God can do such a thing, I know that walking into a church on Sunday, with an addiction on your back or any sin for that matter, can make the sanctuary not a place of peace and rest but of judgment and dread. I know... I've been there and felt that. 

No, I wasn't carrying the weight of addiction but I do remember trying to walk into the sanctuary of my church the Sunday I got home from prison...or the Sunday after I knew my marriage was ending...or the Sunday after I miscarried a baby...or the Sunday after I filed bankruptcy...and so on and so on. These heavy weights made me look at those around me and see perfection. True these other women would quickly tell you that they were far from perfect, but from where I sat, no one was as messed up as I was. It was all I could to keep it together and get out of there before I lost it in the line for communion. I might have been at church those Sundays, but I walled off those portions of my heart that were hurting and raw. I wanted to protect myself and keep a good distance between me and those "perfect" gals I saw. 

Thinking back on my own experiences and the testimony of my AA friend, I can see how easy it is to believe Jesus is the answer, but be afraid to ask the question. No wonder support groups like AA offer a safe place to be real and transparent about what's hard and difficult in life. I wonder what churches would be like on Sunday if the ticket to get in was a label displayed on the chest dictating what made you flawed and imperfect? I think we'd be more quick to love, forgive and help carry one another's burdens ....just as scripture asks. We'd truly see those hurting, lonely, scared, depressed and in need.

And although I believe that church involvement and attendance is important to the growth of our spiritual wellbeing, I think it is equally important to locate those outside resources that speak to us individually. It's OK to find answers Monday through Saturday; it's OK to glean support from others outside of a Sunday school classroom. I think my new friend would agree that God uses all types of community to lovingly grow us up as souls that do better when bound together. 

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The Year of 40: We don't need no stinkin' speed limits

by Christie Browning

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

I've been warned. Over and over my husband has told me to slow down. It's true... I have a lead foot. My lead foot shows up most when I am running late and when I am ready to be at my destination. It's a issue I've faced my whole driving life... I like to go fast!

It finally happened. After years of not having a speeding ticket, I got one Friday night after work. I was on my way to pick up my stepson, running late and anxious to get home. That county back road was just begging for me to push the pedal to the metal. And I did.... 71 mph in a 55 mph zone. I didn't even have a chance to see that cop as I raced by, but he sure saw me and those lights kicked on. 

I pulled over and was honest when he asked why I was speeding. Honest did nothing for me as he handed me a ticket and told me to slow it down. Granted, he did knock the speed down to 65 mph, but still... it was a ticket for me nonetheless.

You'll be pleased to know that I slowed down and when my stepson got in the car I confessed my traffic transgression. He thought it was hilarious and proceeded to tease me about it all weekend. We all had a great laugh at my expense and to the tune of almost $200, the fine for speeding.

I really believe I was a race car driver in my previous life. But regardless, Friday night's experience made me think how we can speed and race right through life. I know I am guilty of this. I get so focused on the bigger and better destination waiting up ahead that I blow right through the experiences, lessons and memories I could be having along the journey. When the old saying says "stop and smell the roses," I fly by so quickly that I blow the petals right off those beautiful blooms.

Being still and moving slow are not my favorite things to do. Whether it's in life or on the highway, I like to be moving ahead quickly, with purpose and my sights set on my destination. However, I realize that in my almost 40 years, I've blown past the chance to notice a friend in need, take time to listen to a voice that wants to be heard, miss a chance to create a memory, overlook the opportunity to make a small difference- all in the name of trying to make a Kingdom difference, big and bold. 

My grandmother, who just recently celebrated her 94th birthday, was great a moving at a pace where she noticed life around her. She never missed the beauty of a flower blooming, the sweet bird's song in her tree, a timid deer making it's way across the ground. She saw beauty in all the world around her because she was looking for it and because she moved at a pace that let her eyes and heart fixate on it. 

I wonder what her blog post would look like if she had one entitled "The Year of 94?"

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Get our free devotional!

NEW from reVision an online devotional series designed to point out your worth, value and immeasurable beauty! This will help you see yourself through the loving, adoring eyes of our Heavenly Father and will give you tangible tools to help you live in confidence of who you are through Christ!

The Year of 40: Tripping over my own feet

by Christie Browning

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

I've been known to be a bit clumsy at times. I've got several scars to mark the occasions I've been less than graceful. Such as:

  • When I was in 7th grade and I yanked my ring finger off...yes, off!! My ring caught on a bolt on the monkey bars, severing it, requiring some serious surgery to repair it.
  • When I was in 8th grade and ran my hand through a window located on a back door at my church while playing a competitive round of "Capture the Flag."
  • The time I was sick as a little girl, running a fever, and somehow managed to stick my foot in a small tabletop fan, aimed at my body to help cool me down. 

My latest bump and bruise comes from when I fell down the stairs a few months ago. In a hurry to run out the door for an appointment, and my arms full of everything I needed for the day, the heel of my shoe caught on my pant leg and down I went. I fell straight down almost the entire flight of stairs. My shins took the brunt, hitting hard on the step's edge and acting as a sled for me to slide all the way down to the bottom. My face planted on the wall at the bottom of the landing. My to-go cup sprayed tea all over me and the contents of my bag we strewn at the bottom of the stairs. Luckily my cellphone was saved in the crash - thank goodness for a good protective case.

I'm sure we all have those moments when we lose our step, fall down, trip over our own feet --- it's a little embarrassing, but we all do it. 

I've been guilty of running so fast in life that I trip and stumble over my own agenda, my own to-do list, my own goals and gotta-get-dones. Lately, I've felt the incredible urge to slow down. No, I am still plenty busy and my days are still full. However, I've been guilty of pushing and running so hard for the future I thought was waiting for me, that I've tripped up and stumbled right past the present. 

If you've followed me for any length of time, you know my heart's desire is to encourage, empower and inspire others to embrace the greatness God has placed inside them, to shirk off the past and live freely as the unique creation God designed. I really wanted to do that on a large scale - a global platform - to a huge audience. So I built my days and my to-do lists around actions steps to take me to that stage. Now, I truly believe that the vision I have in my mind of being in a stadium full of women, delivering a talk that touches hearts and changes lives ... well, that can still happen. But what I've found is that I've been so focused on the future that I've missed out on the individual hearts I could be touching right now.

When I was a kid, I went to a small fair with my best friend and her mother. We were there really early in the morning to set up a booth that my friend's mom would be manning that day. Behind the outdoor fair was a large field that seemed to span for miles and miles. Fog rolled across the ground giving it this mysterious appearance and it invited us to come run and play in the early morning sunrise. As my friend and I ran into the field, we ran farther and farther, trying to reach the fog, but as we looked around, the fog was always just a little further up ahead. When we finally stopped and looked back at where we had come from, we saw that indeed we were smack in the middle of the fog...we'd been there all along, but our focus was always so far ahead we missed seeing the place where we stood. 

I found out I was doing that very thing in life...running so hard to reach what lies ahead of me, the future that awaits me, that I wasn't stopping to see what was all around. I missed decades of opportunities and it wasn't until recently that I stopped, looked back and realized I was right in the middle of it all along. 

Goals and benchmarks are still great, and I believe I'll always be the kind of person who is looking ahead to what tomorrow brings and what I can do to put my mark on it. However, I've learned during this year of 40, that I can't live out tomorrow before today is done. There are many opportunities to impact those around me right now, in this very moment, on this very day. 

This perspective, that truly comes from age, won't keep me from my clumsiness. My body will still bear the scars of the times I've tripped and stumbled. But my heart can take a breathe knowing that its purpose and passions will now be a source of significance, not a source of "never enough." I can rest and live in the moments that come with each day instead of running right past them, anxious to move on to bigger, greener pastures.

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NEW from reVision an online devotional series designed to point out your worth, value and immeasurable beauty! This will help you see yourself through the loving, adoring eyes of our Heavenly Father and will give you tangible tools to help you live in confidence of who you are through Christ!

The Year of 40: Musha & me vs. the crawdad

by Christie Browning

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

Freak weather turned my driveway into a showdown of epic proportions Friday night.

On one side it was me and my little dog Musha.

On the other side.... a crawdad.

The weather here in Indiana has been crazy! One day the high is 68 degrees and the next it's snowing with a high of 33. We've had a run of warmer days that have felt more like the beginnings of spring, not the end of February in the North. 

Even the wildlife are confused about what season we're in. Animals that would normally be tucked away in their hibernating hideaways are coming out months early. Friday night as my family drove home in damp weather, frogs were leaping all across the road as if to stretch their legs and prepare for the new season. They were slapped in the face with snow flakes the next day and bone-chilling winds. 

Given this strange weather it is not surprising that little critters are confused....disoriented... and in the case of the crawdad.... agitated. 

I was taking Musha outside for her nightly visit to the yard to do business. It had been damp all day and warm. We live out in a rural area in small circle of houses on a small lake. Yes, we do get the expected wildlife, but they usually tuck tail and run when they hear us coming out of the garage. They DO NOT stand at the front door to greet us... as was our shellfish friend, the crawdad.

With Musha on her leash, we flung open the garage door to find a crawdad right there on our stoop. He was HUGE! By far the biggest crawdad I had ever seen. He could have carried us away on his back like we were a circus act. His big ol' claws were in the air... and he wasn't waving them like he just didn't care... he was ticked off that we had busted in on his snooze on the stoop. 

I scream. Musha can't figure out if she wants to attack or play and the three of us just stand in the doorway frozen. I am not kidding! There we were.... I am shocked to see such a crustacean on my doorstep. Musha is perked up and frozen in a stare down with the creature. The crawdad is poised, claws in the air, read to attack.

Growing up my favorite movie was an old black and white flick called "The Creature From the Black Lagoon." In that moment, there at my door, I felt like I was filming something like "The Crawdad from Old Lake" -- the lake we live on. 

I finally break from the shock and snatch Musha's leash away from the door. I run back into the house to wake my husband from his catnap on the couch with high expectations that his smarts and testosterone were better matched against the cranky crawdad in the drive. But I was not met with a hero's stance and a go-get-em attitude. My husband told me to take Musha out another door and come to bed. WHAT?!?!?! I wasn't going to sleep knowing that THING is lurking around in my driveway. What if he gets smart and figures out how to get in the garage, crawl in the backseat of my car, only to pop up when I am driving to work on Monday. Heck no! That sucker belonged back on the lake shore.... not in my driveway. 

Left to face the creature on my own, I cautiously walked Musha through the garage and this time, instead of heading out the door, I raised the garage door to go out. With a sigh of relief, the disgusting crawdad had moved from his perch at my doorway. In fact, he was no where to be seen. 

I was feeling pretty good and relieved that the crawdad had moved on. Musha was out in the yard tending to her duty and I was admiring the warm weather and night air when it suddenly hit me...... if I didn't know where this crawdad was.... he could be anywhere! He could be coming up behind me in a sneak attack, stealth mode. I mean, if he could remove himself so quickly from the premises between the time I left him on my doorstep and the time I brought Musha back outside, he could be ANYWHERE! 

With shivers and heebie jeebies that ran the length of my body, I yanked Musha's leash mid stream, told her to drip dry and high tailed it back inside. We never lock the doors at our house but that night, the lock, the deadbolt, and anything else that would bar the door to keep that crawdad outside and me safely inside was necessary. I am grossed out just recalling this story.

Now you might be shaking your head thinking I am halfway to crazy or you might be laughing out loud knowing you'd be the same way. But the fact of the matter is... at almost 40, I am still scared of the silliest things. There was a moment where I seriously considered not taking Musha outside at all because of that "thing." I was willing to let a six-foot crawdad (ok, in my mind it was six feet... maybe he was a mere four inches, but who's counting) keep me locked, trapped in my house. Seriously!?!?! 

In life, I have let fear keep me from so many new experiences and opportunities. Fear of failure, fear of rejection and the fear of uncertainty have all been bed fellows in my heart and mind. Even at almost 40, I still face fears of the heart. You know what I mean... it's not a fear of the dark or of the water's fear that lives in your gut and in your soul that can paralyze you emotionally and spiritually.  

But each time a fear pops up in my heart, I have a choice to make -- let it trap me, lock me up inside and keep me stuck inside myself or fling open the door and face it head on or choose an alternate door to go through. You see, I wanted my husband to remove the obstacle that stood on my stoop, but in life, we have to conquer our fears for ourselves. Yes, we can have someone walking with us, cheering us on and pumping us up, but the reality is...fear is faced, fought and finalized by one person alone -- YOU!

I'm almost 40! This is not a time for fearful living, but a time for bold courage that brings color, excitement and spice back to life! Who's with me? Hey crawdad, put your claw down! You don't get to be a part of this party!  But everyone else is welcome to join me!

2 Timothy 1:7   "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline."

Do you know what it feels like to worry, obsess and focus on what others think of you? Are you a people pleaser or someone who needs to have everyone like you?

Well, I know that feeling all too well. I even wrote a book on the subject!!

Check it out, as well as our complete online store, at

The Year of 40: Love it or leave it

by Christie Browning

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

About three years ago, my husband and I fell in love with the house we live in. We loved the location, loved the country, quiet setting, adored the bright, open floor plan and thought we had found our forever home. 

But during the past three years of living here, we have realized that this in not the forever home we thought it was going to be. Actually, my sentiments are a bit stronger....I WANT TO MOVE ... AND WE CAN'T MOVE SOON ENOUGH!!!!

The once remote location that offered that get-away-from-it-all opportunity has turned into a horrible long commute that is wearing us out. My husband drives about 45 minutes one way to go to work in a neighboring city. I too drive about 30 minutes one way to the same city. All of our family who live in this area, live in the neighboring city -- we are 45 minutes to an hour away from them. 

That country, quiet setting has come with animals running at will in our area. I'm not just talking about the wildlife -- that part of animal activity is pretty cool. No, I am talking about folks who have 30 cats living outside, which of course never stay in their yard so basically the whole neighborhood has 30 cats. And the same goes for dogs. Being out of the city means there's no leash laws so dogs are free to run and roam and do whatever else they like in any yard they like.

The open floor plan that we loved, now lived in, proves to be lacking in storage and efficient space. There's not enough counter space, the bathroom desperately needs a vanity and not just a sink, and there's just no closet space for storage.

I've been itching to move for about 6 months. It would just be easier to be closer to our work and our family. And I really think I was born to live in the city :) But as much as I want to kick my legs and stomp my feet, we are here for another 10-12 far as we can see.

It's funny how something that seemed so perfect loses it's allure over time. In our disposable society, we've come to love things long as it's pretty, polished and perfect. Otherwise, toss that sucker and start over. We see it with our possessions, our relationships and our churches.

There's a lesson I've come to realize that I am supposed to learn in the midst of my desire to move....that is to embrace the lost art of contentment. To slow down and appreciate what I have and what my Heavenly Father has given me. I can't say that I've got this skill set down just yet, but I wonder what our world would be like if we weren't always chasing after the latest and greatest, tossing aside the old and outdated? I think we'd move at a slower pace. I think we'd appreciate the little things. I think we would take time to tend to the things in life that really matter. 

I know myself pretty well...and I know that I am going to get the itch to up and move once every other week. It's going to be a battle between contentment and "I want it now!"It's gonna be a hard lesson to learn.... but I guess I have about 12 months to study. 

Do you know what it feels like to worry, obsess and focus on what others think of you? Are you a people pleaser or someone who needs to have everyone like you?

Well, I know that feeling all too well. I even wrote a book on the subject!!

Check it out, as well as our complete online store, at

The Year of 40: But I try again the next day

by Christie Browning

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

Ok... confession...I totally skipped a week, maybe two depending on how you look at the calendar, in getting a post to this blog. However, as I sat in church yesterday, a really awesome gal from our congregation gave a talk about all the disciplines we are supposed to do as believers, but she was honest to also share how many of those she struggles with. It was refreshing to hear such honesty and it was encouraging to know that I am not the only one who misses the mark. As she spoke about each area, and then shared her deficiency in that area, she would say ".....But I try again the next day." I am...."trying again the next day." 

Life is tough and sometimes I think we are even more tough on ourselves with regards to the expectations we place on our ability to perform, succeed, perfect, and so on. If we were to get real about things, I think we would find a lot of grace in the idea of "trying again the next day."

My husband has developed this "I don't care what anyone thinks of me" mantra and he lives by it. It's really freeing when you can learn to only care about what a few key people think of you. Mat is so good about living by this concept and it really helps lift the pressure off of his shoulders. I recognize this and am very sensitive to this way of thinking because I am wired to be the polar opposite. By nature I am a people pleaser and want everyone to be happy with me, like me and approve of everything that I am doing. Talk about pressure. It has, at times, about done me in and it's definitely ruined important aspects of my life. 

Although I am not perfect at overcoming this character flaw, I have gained a ton of ground and am waaayyyy better at handling this aspect of myself than I was just a few short years ago. I think I am getting better each day and then this happens....

Saturday I was all about getting stuff done. I was on a mission to make the most of the weekend, which included knocking a few errands off my to-do list. When I came out of the store and had loaded my bags in the truck of my car, I climbed in the driver's seat and turned the key...DEAD. The car would not start. 

This is not a first for this car. It has a horrible security feature that, when not started exactly right or when stopped and started too often, the car won't start as a means of security. Obviously this is a poorly thought out design and is very aggravating. The remedy is to let the car sit for a few minutes and then it starts. But if you try to soon or not soon enough, the security feature kicks in and you are back at square one. 

So there I sat, in the parking lot of Walmart, waiting on my car to love me enough to start. When time had passed and I was ready to give it another go, I literally looked around the parking lot to see if anyone was walking by or getting in or out of their cars before I tried to start mine. Why? Because I didn't want them to see or hear me trying to start my car. They might come ask if I need help. They might think, "poor girl!" They might laugh at my precarious situation or my late model car. I might draw attention to myself and that would be embarrassing. 

HOW PATHETIC! Seriously?!?! I was in the land of camo-colored hunting apparel and fuzzy pajama bottoms (if you haven't visited a Walmart recently, you won't understand ... there's just something about the attire of a large portion of Walmart shoppers.) Who was I to care about folks who were more worried about shopping than me and my car; who I didn't know and probably would never see again; who are nobody of importance to me; and are surely not on the list of those who are close enough to me with an opinion that should matter. Geesh, Christie!!! .... But I try again the next day.

Even at (almost) 40, some lessons are never fully learned. I guess that's the way life goes, but on those days where I fail at learning or fail the test with epic proportions, I can rest in the fact that I can (and will) try again the next day. God promises that His grace is sufficient for me, which in this heart of mine, means I can rest assured that God loves me so much...even in my failures and shortcomings and even when I fumble with the small things in life that hold me back. 

Do you know what it feels like to worry, obsess and focus on what others think of you? Are you a people pleaser or someone who needs to have everyone like you?

Well, I know that feeling all too well. I even wrote a book on the subject!!

Check it out, as well as our complete online store, at

The Year of 40: A cold dip full of inspiration

by Christie Browning

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment, which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

My mother-in-law, Benita, is pretty awesome. She has to be to put up with my husband Mat... the woman is a saint! (just kidding, Mat. We both love you very much!) When I was dating Mat, he told me I would really like his mom, and he was right. We have a lot of things in common - we both like books and have the same really bad sense of cheesy humor - just to name a few.

When I first got to know Benita, I was impressed with her ability to go against labels associated with age. Although most adult women dream of going back to school, she forged through her education and gained a Master's degree. As more mature women are looking to settle in and kick back, Benita runs after life...literally! She is involved in more fun runs, 5Ks and half marathons, it would make Richard Simmons say "Girl, take a break!"

Benita Browning, my mother-in-law has pledged to make 2017 a year full of new experiences. Her first one - participating in our city's Polar Bear Plunge.

Benita Browning, my mother-in-law has pledged to make 2017 a year full of new experiences. Her first one - participating in our city's Polar Bear Plunge.

However it was when I visited Benita during the holiday season that I was really struck with inspiration. She told me that 2017 was going to be a year where she tried new things. Sitting in her apartment she rattled off a few "new" things she wanted to tackle this year such as taking a drawing class and learning to play an instrument.

There wasn't anything in that scenario that would lead me to believe Benita would truly make this a year of new things. She isn't wealthy or rich, she doesn't have a lot of idle time and she doesn't have a heap of resources like professional musicians or artists in her family. But you couldn't argue with her. Her enthusiasm made me buy all-in to this idea of new experiences. 

It really wasn't the list that impressed me, but it was the excitement that Benita displayed when she started to dream about the new things she would experience. Her whole attitude was "I don't have to be great at it. I just want to get out and try things." That's another thing I really like about Benita, she isn't really afraid of what others think of her. She follows her heart and really enjoys life.

January 1st, Benita kicked off the year with her first "new" experience. She participated in an annual event in our community, the Polar Bear Plunge. Numerous folks gather on the shoreline of our city's river to run headlong into the freezing water. Why? Well, why not? It's been a New Year's Day tradition for years and folks really go all out, wearing costumes and crazy hats even in the coldest of temps. Sure enough, Benita was right in the middle of it. The expression on her face captures so much emotion and truly says a thousand words.... among those are "Wow I'm cold!"

Benita's resolve to try new things leads me to think about my "Year of 40." I've been passionately pursuing things that are tied to my message, my success, and my significance. Now while these are all well and good, I sometimes run right past the new things that could enhance my journey. 

I wouldn't classify myself as a stay-in-my-box type of gal, but I surely haven't made time to incorporate some "newness" in my life. Maybe this "Year of 40," while filled with goals and to-dos, should be about experiencing things....really slowing down to enjoy the things around me, the sights and sounds of life, to taste and touch new things in new ways. I don't know if I will take up a drawing class or learn to play an instrument, but if Benita can work full-time and still make room in her schedule for new things, so can I.  After all, we never age-out of the learning curve.

So here's to Benita's year of experiencing new things. May we all plunge into the real zest of life this 2017. 

If you've felt worn down, burned out or stuck in place.... THIS IS YOUR TIME.


NEW from reVision an online devotional series designed to set your heart in motion.

No matter what time of year it is, you can start a new --- as if EVERY DAY is NEW YEAR'S DAY!     Click here to sign up!

The Year of 40: Not what I was expecting

by Christie Browning

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment, which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

This second week of "The Year of 40" was not at all what I was expecting. It started with treacherous roads followed by a 4 a.m. trip to the emergency room with my husband, Mat.

Finally this week was going to be normal. No more holidays, no traveling... just a normal week with all things fitting into the routine. Aaaahhhh I love routine. I like to shake things up a bit too, but there comes a time when I am done with all that and I am ready to return to "normal." That's exactly what I expected this week to be. I even posted on my Facebook page:

However, The Year of 40 had different ideas. Tuesday morning I headed to Fort Wayne, only to get caught in serious traffic backup on a two-lane highway. There was bad ice that morning and several slide-offs so when traffic came to a stop, I figured it was due to an accident. I sat for TWO HOURS waiting to get going. In the rural stretch of highway where we were stuck, there was little opportunity to turn around or turn off for a different route. 

But panic hit me when I heard my low-fuel light ding at me and I was no where near a gas station, no where near a place to turn, and no where near the end of this traffic tie-up. I texted my husband saying, "What do I do??" We were both beginning to worry that I would be stranded in the middle of the highway, in the middle of cow pastures and depleted cornfields, with no help insight. I could utilize our road side assistance but with the traffic the way it was, there was no way they could even get to me. UGH! I was freaking out. I spent about 30 minutes worrying about this situation when finally, a sheriff made his way down the line of traffic, escorting each car into the oncoming lane and back to an alternate route. The problem was.... that route took me miles out of the way. But off I went, navigating the country roads, curving and winding as they were, through the ice with a blaring low-fuel light on my dash. I prayed that God would just get me to the gas station. I then prayed that God would just calm me down and keep me safe. 

I made it to the gas station... on fumes, but I made it. I was relieved to have gas, but I still had an icy commute to take, but I made it to where I was going and all was well....Until Wednesday.

Wednesday morning about 1 a.m. I heard my husband get up coughing and hacking with this horrible cough that just won't quit. He's had it for weeks now, a leftover symptom from bronchitis he had a month ago. I laid in bed listening to him cough from 1 a.m. until about 3 a.m. - seemed like nonstop. I got up to check on him and to persuade him to consider going to the emergency room. Something in my gut just told me the ER was where we needed to be. 

As we sat there discussing if we should go or not, a coughing fit hit him hard and Mat was struggling to breath. There was a look of panic on his face as he gasped for air. At that moment, I wasn't discussing it anymore and I wasn't taking "no" for an answer. We were going to the ER. 

It was about 4 a.m. when we got to the hospital. They immediately took us into a room and Mat was hooked up to all sorts of machines as the nurses ran an EKG, ruling out any heart concerns. Then came the blood work, vitals and a myriad of other tests. In the end, the doctor cam in to say that he felt this was just a lingering infection from the bronchitis and a round of breathing treatments would help Mat out. They did indeed. We were waiting for the nurse to come back with directions and prescriptions for Mat to be treated at home, when the doctor said he saw one test that had an elevated number that had him worried. He wanted to do a CAT scan on Mat's chest to rule out a blood clot and any other lung abnormalities. This immediately worried both of us. Mat's mom passed away from lung cancer and currently, Mat's dad is battling it. We were worried, scared and a bit panicked. 

Thank goodness for smartphones and messaging. I hit up family, friends and church members for prayers. I knew in that moment we need God to calm our hearts and renew our strength. Mat went off for the test and I wore a path in that little ER room as I paced back in forth praying God's healing power and strength and presence rain down on us there in that hospital. 

After waiting about an hour, the test came back normal with no signs of the initial concerns the doctor had. But Mat's blood pressure was still high, his pulse rate was very high and spiking at times and his oxygen was very low. The doctor made the call to admit Mat and upstairs to a hospital room we went. Mat ended up staying overnight with breathing treatments every four hours and three IVs of antibiotics and drugs to fight off the lung infection.

Friends and family still prayed and a few members of our church came up to pray for us in person, laying hands on Mat and asking God to bless him with healing and strength. It was a long night, but Mat's numbers began improving and late in the afternoon on the next day he was released with a long list of instructions and several follow up tests and visits that we will tackle this coming week.

Needless to say this week was nothing but normal. It was as if life said, " want normal, well think again!" But through it all I was reminded of a few things:

  1. We are getting older...and our bodies need to be taken care of so that when we are faced with illness, we are strong enough to fight it off and stay health. We have lots of years to live still and we need to do what we can to maintain this "temple" that God has given us. Maybe it's because I am turning 40 or maybe I am just getting wise as I get older, but eating right and exercising is becoming a pertinent to-do on my list. BUT... I need a little bit of normal in order to get into a new routine where I can fit a trip to the gym into the schedule.
  2. God is in the middle of our upset. Yes, we know God cares for us and that He is with us when we face scary situations and worry-filled circumstances, but sometimes in the middle of those moments, the fear blocks out the truth. As I text messaged my mom with an update on Mat, she reminded me of the promises God gives us in times such as those. It was a great reminder and the words I needed to hear to keep my heart in check and the fear at bay.
  3. When there's no words, the heart speaks its own language. In that moment when Mat was out of my sight, getting his CAT scan done, I wanted to pray, but there really were no words I could speak. Emotion poured out of me and my heart just ached for the fear and pain he was in. It was for just a few minutes, but in that brief time, peace swept over me. I didn't even utter a real word, but yet God granted me peace and calmness. How good is our Heavenly Father that He understands the hearts of His children even when we can't express how we feel. 

It's a wonderful thing to have routine and "normal," but life doesn't always fall in line. But when it all falls apart and life comes undone, only truth remains and that is Heavenly Father's promises and unfailing love for us. 

If you've felt worn down, burned out or stuck in place.... THIS IS YOUR TIME.


NEW from reVision an online devotional series designed to set your heart in motion.

No matter what time of year it is, you can start a new --- as if EVERY DAY is NEW YEAR'S DAY!     Click here to sign up!

The Year of 40: So it begins

by Christie Browning



It’s a new year and with the dawning of 2017, I realize something very different about this year. This is the year I turn 40. Now mind you, I won’t turn 40 for about eight more months, but the reality has hit… I am turning 40 this year.

Now before you all send me encouraging words that assure me 40 is just a number, I’m still young, and I am just 30 with 10 years of experience, let me put your mind at ease….I am totally OK with turning 40. In fact, I think I’m looking forward to what the year of 40 will bring about. That’s why I decided to write this series. I wanted to commemorate this milestone year with my own perspective, sense of humor and penned words that may inspire you in some way.

So here’s some food for thought to put this 40th year into perspective. In 1977....

  • The first Apple Computer went on sale.
  • Jimmy Carter was elected as the President of United States and the first oil flows through the Trans Alaskan Oil Pipeline.
  • Elvis Presley Dies from a heart attack aged 42. 
  • Average Cost of new house $49,300.00
  • Average Income per year $15,000.00
  • Average Monthly Rent $240.00  
  • Cost of a gallon of Gas 65 cents
  • Wrist Worn AM Radio $7.95
  • 5 inch Portable TV $147.00
  • New Stereo System $247.95 
  • Star Wars opened in cinemas and filmgoers lined up for hours to see it
  • The TV Mini Series "Roots" was aired on ABC winning top audience figures, 9 Emmys and a Golden Globe.

But ... who wants to live in the past???

Here's what is going to happen THIS year:

  • I am finishing my book, soon to be released, "rePeatedly reVised"
  • My husband and I will be paying off $16K of debt
  • I am going to take care of me and my body
  • In the fall, my second book for 2017, #liverevised, will be published
  • This series, The Year of 40, will be an ongoing post this year because I want to prove to myself that I can see something through to completion

..... and so many more things are on the horizon for this year!