Posted by: donnatallman | February 4, 2014

Circuit Riders

Charles Rondeau

Photo by Charles Rondeau

According to Google, an “itinerant” is a person who travels from place to place…also called a traveler, wanderer, roamer, rover, nomad, gypsy, migrant, transient, drifter, vagabond, hobo, vagrant, tramp…”

Stop! These are getting progressively more depressing!

They don’t have to.

We are “itinerants” and for the last two years we’ve been traveling across the country. We’ve spent time in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Tennessee. We’ve made the same loop twice now stopping to visit friends, encourage strangers, and help change the atmosphere for people held in the grips of disappointment.

We are houseless, but we are not homeless. Much like turtles, our “home” travels with us in our relationships and in our backpacks! All the rest of our belongings are in storage in Colorado so we have no official place to live and no identifiable address. We have only a Post Office box in Colorado we call our own, but even that’s rented.

We are itinerant. I preferred to think of myself as a “Circuit Rider” until I looked up a description of them…How does this sound to you?

“Circuit riders had to be young, in good health, and single…”

Houston…we have a problem…

“Life was not easy for a circuit rider, partly because living conditions on the frontier were harsh. Circuit riders rarely served longer than one year in a circuit. Each year, they were appointed to a new area. This kept them from growing too familiar with the local people and wanting to settle down.” (by N. Fred Jordan, Jr.)

I get that; I would love to settle down. Oh yeah, circuit riders were supposed to be single.

No wonder.

It’s outrageous to do what we’re doing! Some of you pray for a place to park when you go shopping; I pray for a place to sleep at night. Daily facing the adventure of the unknown stretches us way beyond ourselves. It forces us to depend on God for His strength, direction, and power in a minute-by-minute pursuit of God’s heartbeat.

But being itinerant also has upsides ~ a lot of them. Truly. We’ve met some amazing people along the way and seen the power of God obliterate despair and hopelessness right before our eyes. Any sacrifice we’ve had to make pales in comparison to the joy of journeying a few miles alongside people desperate to know God and experience His love for themselves. It’s been such a privilege.

So, where are we now? Well, at the moment, we’re in Ohio where we’ve spent the last three months celebrating the hundred-year-deep freeze with all the other Buckeyes this winter. 35 degrees below zero with the wind chill! I wonder what the circuit riders would have done with that? They were the original men of steel; they would have endured.

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

Here’s a picture of a “snow roller” we got to enjoy during the deep freeze. These rare weather wonders happen when the temperature, humidity, and other conditions are just perfect. The snow rolls up into spirals dotting the landscape with what looks like white cotton candy. They are amazing to look at, but if you touch them or try to preserve them, they instantly collapse to powder. Somehow the snow rollers of Ohio seem like a perfect metaphor for our adventures!

Having completed what we feel God wanted us to do for the moment in Ohio, we are preparing to hit the road again and make another loop across the country. This time, however, we hope to travel south through Savannah, Georgia, across the southern states where it should be warmer (!), up through Texas and Oklahoma, and then back to Colorado.

Ohio Sunset

Photo by Donna Tallman

Yes, the adventure is great. The people are wonderful and the experience of living by faith is tremendous out on the road, but there really is an awful side of circuit riding. Every time you pull up stakes and leave, bits and pieces of your heart stay behind. My heart is strewn across 3,000 miles of this country and that never gets any easier. Leaving Ohio will be heart-rending for sure!

My prayer for all of you that I’ve met in Ohio comes from Philippians 1:9-11: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

For now, we pack and clean and get ready to go in two weeks. I’m hoping between now and then that I’ll find a new road song to keep us company. Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” worked two years ago, but I need a new song for motivation.

Suggestions anyone?

For now, here’s a music video I’ve been watching from Sawyer Brown called, “The Dirt Road”  (you can skip the ad in about 3 seconds):


© Copyright, 2014 by Donna Tallman.




  1. Sailing, by Rod Stewart has some great lyrics.
    Homeward bound, by Simon & Garfunkle?
    I pray your journeys are safe, full of wonder of his glory!

    • I missed Sailing so I looked it up on YouTube – the song takes in several travel options, so it’s likely we could end up on a boat someplace. I got to go sailing once in Hawaii when I was in high school, and I absolutely loved the freedom of it. He captures that in his song. I love Homeward Bound – what’s not to love…it’s the cry of almost every heart “Get me home, I want to go home.” Yes, Homeward Bound will be #1 on my playlist since we’ll be working with people who long for something other than what they know, but don’t realize the “home” they’re looking for is found in Jesus. Thanks for chiming in…blessings on your journey and be safe as well!

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