Tasting Freedom

Storyline family

Our Storyline family

Lessons from the Storyline Conference

As most of you know, Carol and I are in process of writing our first book. It has been a leap of faith and a journey of insecurity. Gratefully, over the last few weeks we have made a lot of progress and are starting to feel confident that this project will actually be accomplished. You see, I’m great at starting something, having the discipline and inspiration to finish has always been a different deal.

Before Christmas, Carol encouraged me to sign us up for the Storyline Conference in San Diego (which happened last weekend). The host was writer Donald Miller, who wrote Blue Like Jazz. I had little expectation as we were headed to the left coast. Ironically, Carol said she “wanted this weekend to change us.” I was a little surprised by this lofty goal, I didn’t realize we needed “changing.” She was right (as usual ha!), it transformed us. I thought I would share a few reflections while they are still fresh.

I found myself being “emotionally incontinent” for most of the conference. I felt like I received a deep tissue spiritual massage, and all the knots, tightness and trigger points experienced a thorough workout.  My ‘hot spots’ were exposed. The toxins and tears released were refreshing, healing and therapeutic. We were introduced to a freedom that was unfamiliar to us. This experience was liberating, invigorating and exhausting.

Discovering the need for freedom first requires a revelation of the prison you live in. I quickly recognized that I was entrapped by my own insecurities, fear and pride. The first day we attended an improv workshop. One would think that this is right up my alley, thinking on your feet, having fun and being the center of attention. Not me, not here, not now. Carol kept prompting me to go on stage when volunteers were requested. I was not budging from my chair. I was frozen. Behind us, a thin young man in skinny jeans jumps up and goes up on stage to play their game.

I realized right there, that he was free and I wasn’t. Before you try to rationalize this event, and explain that you would feel the same way …hear me out  The Lord wants me to be free, to see what holds me back, to understand my fears and break loose. I needed to see the contrast in this young man and myself. I have competed in front of millions of people, spoken to large groups many times before. In fact, I love getting up front. And yet, in this place, I could not do it.

In some ways this was the essence of the conference for me. Developing a freedom in Christ to have a meaningful life, and to tell your story to encourage others. Because it is HIStory. Christ in you is the story, how it plays out is your testimony and it has value. We are almost obligated to share it, write it, speak it, let it loose for others to use.

We met some incredible people with amazing stories. Two sisters who moved to California from Michigan are serving those affected by human trafficking. They told stories that would break your heart www.thea21campaign.org. Another woman is currently writing a book about the murder of her father, her forgiveness of the murderer and his conversion in prison www.lauriecoombs.org .  Carol met with one of her favorite bloggers whose book tells the story of her tender brave journey as a widow with two young boys www.tricialottwilliford.com. These people and the impact they are having is priceless.

There is one thing that can cripple us from telling our stories and living a life of meaning: FEAR.

As I sat in the improv workshop I was gripped with it:

  • Fear of looking stupid
  • Fear of being laughed at
  • Fear of how others view me
  • Fear of being seen
  • Fear of being myself
  • Fear of vulnerability
  • Fear of looking weak
  • Fear of making a mistake
  • Fear of imperfection
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of being judged (by others and most importantly myself)

Can you see yourself in any of these? These fears are deep, not necessarily on the surface. I was not nervous, I was paralyzed. I’m not sure what my heart would have done if I would have jumped up and gone forward.  I am longing for that freedom.

What would we do if we knew we couldn’t fail? That is the greatest question. The fact is; there is no failure.  The worst thing we can do is: abstain.  We can refuse to show up, refuse to be seen, refuse to tell the good news of what Jesus has done in our lives.

So here is my conclusion; I was a slave to fear, which is a by product of sin, and Jesus died for that sin so that I would no longer be held captive by it.  I’m thinking of the closing scene in Braveheart, where Mel Gibson is having his guts ripped out. In his last breath he yells “FREEEEEEDOM”.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” John 8:36


Donald Miller handing out donuts before a morning session.

Donald Miller handing out donuts before a morning session.


  1. Love your heart, Travis! So happy you got to go and learn and lose some more shackles. This book is going to be AWESOME!!

  2. You bless me with your transparency and willingness to share your journey. Thanks for being a great friend and brother!

  3. Thanks for including me in this, Travis! We sure had a blast, didn’t we?! It was such a blessing to have met both you and Carol!

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