Extra header image

February 2022

Alum shares travel details on online blog

Traveling can be enough of a challenge sometimes that the adventure and fun get sapped out of it completely. But for one Wayland alumnus, all that planning is just part of the process to endure so she can see the world.

“People ask me where I want to go. I want to go everywhere,” says Lyndsay Cross Valickus, a 2011 graduate of the Plainview campus. Her goal is to visit all 50 of the United States and as many countries as possible. And the map where she charts her travels shows she’s well on her way to doing just that... at just 32.

If there’s any downside to the many travels that Lyndsay has taken over the years, it would be

Road to Hana side trip
On the Road to Hana in Maui

keeping up with the details of each trip: the locale, the sites, the restaurants and the hotels. After a while, even a self-proclaimed Type A super-organized young woman can lose track. And that’s when Getting on a Plane was born.

“In 2018, I decided I should start writing all this stuff down, not only for other people but for myself. I want to remember all these things and keep almost a scrapbook about what we did, where we were and the names of places,” noted Lyndsay, who works as a traveling dental hygienist in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. “I get messages all the time from people asking ‘where did you eat?’ or where we’d suggest they stay. I’d have to go scroll through all my photos. I decided it would be helpful to have a post about it, and you could go read all the details and I could remember too.”

Her blog is online and open to the public at http://gettingonaplane.com/. There, she has chronicled trips from a trip with then-fiance Adam to the Maldives to a whirlwind three days in Paris, France, and all sorts of adventures in between. And she’s thorough: Lyndsay mentions hotels, rates, restaurants and other must-sees at each destination. She’s also shared details on COVID protocols related to each trip, though she notes those rules change often.

Tripping through Lyndsay’s blog is a great way to escape into her well-worn travel shoes. But it also serves as a great travelogue for those considering trips to some of her favorite destinations, like St. Kitts & Nevis or Fiji. Looking to hit Zermatt, Switzerland in the near future? Lyndsay’s been there and written all about it.

“I’ve done 10 or 12 at this point, and have even gone back and written about some old places we have been and had not written about,” she said. “And I try to keep up with all the new places, like

Mountains of Zurmatt
Zermatt, Switzerland

we went to Paris in November. I wrote all the details of what I loved and the places I loved, and you can link to the places so you can go straight to the website and see the location and how to book that yourself.”

Her musings – and her extreme travel planning skills – have already paid off for at least one other couple. Her new sister-in-law married in December and honeymooned in Maui, where Lyndsay and husband Adam traveled months earlier, so she had access to some great intel.

Behind the curtain

Many may wonder how Lyndsay is able to travel as often as she does, and she admits that the cost is not near what most would expect. But it takes some planning, some flexibility and willingness to move at break-neck speed.

“I think a lot of people feel like they could not do a trip like (Paris) because they don’t have a week or two weeks to go. But my trips are short, and I travel differently than most people,” she laughs. “I don’t want to go for two weeks. I want to go for four days and three nights, live it up and then come home. I like to do things more fast-paced and efficiently.”

Lyndsay admits a few things: Her planning for trips can be time-consuming as she seeks out the best deals on flights and hotels and researches things to see and do in great detail to plan her travels with that efficiency. She also lets the system work for her in terms of some of the biggest costs related to travel: airline flights.

Adam and Lyndsay use only a Southwest Airlines credit card, paying off the balance at the end of each month and racking up the travel points. As a result, she often earns a year-long free companion pass and Adam travels free to all Southwest destinations using only points. Since the Dallas-based airlines has added Caribbean locations like Aruba, Cozumel and the Dominican Republic to their regular 

Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa, The Louvre, Paris

menu, the opportunities to see more and go further abound.

With that expense out of the way, Lyndsay can afford to either stay at nicer resort hotels – a favorite when she’s heading to a beachy location like Maui or Fiji – or can afford to eat nicer meals while on vacation. And since she goes for short trips, there are fewer hotel nights invested. For international destinations, she shops for the best flight times and days to get the best deal, then she works the plan around those. Their November trip to Paris is a great example.

“Going to Paris, we flew out on a Wednesday night and got to Paris Thursday morning early so we had all three days to tour, then we flew home Sunday at noon. With the time change, we got home at 3 p.m.,” she said. “For those three days, we just hit all the touristy things and go eat really nice dinners, and you can’t afford that for seven nights. We also like to explore and ask the locals where they go. Now we know where we want to go and where to stay when we go back another time.”

Another tip: Lyndsay says she never checks a bag, so there’s no expense there and no worry about losing a bag. It also cuts down on airport lines and waiting. The couple uses public transportation whenever possible in most destination cities, only splurging for a rental car when it’s absolutely necessary or they are in one location for longer than usual.

Continuing a pattern

Lyndsay and Adam married on April 30, 2021, in Napa, Calif., after they had several COVID-related delays. He works as a petroleum engineer in Fort Worth and is able to join her on many trips since they plan them over long weekends or holidays. Her flexible work schedule means she can travel at leisure and work when she’s not seeing the world. She has also taken several trips with a girlfriend or her mother, Martha Cross Robison, a former Wayland employee who earned her master’s degree in 1992 and lives in the Baltimore area.

Half-Marathon in Dublin
With mom running in Dublin

Though her blog may only go back a few years, Lyndsay says she’s been traveling since childhood, always enjoying family trips around the country. At age 19, she met her birth parents and discovered her father is a pilot with Southwest. That opened the doors to free flights for many years, and she took advantage. Having a birth mother in South Carolina, her mom in Baltimore, a close friend in California and Adam’s family on the East Coast gives her easy destinations to explore with built-in free lodging. She got to see many other sites, and fell in love with the Bahamas, while dating a young man in college whose family owned a boat and traveled to the islands often.

After graduation from Wayland, she earned her dental hygiene certification and went to work. It was about that time she began running half-marathons, and mom Martha joined her.

“The first one we did was in Washington, D.C. We started following the Rock ‘N’ Roll series of races and eventually even did the one in Dallas. Adam and I did the one in San Francisco, then Mom and I did Dublin, Ireland, and Madrid, Spain, as well as Montreal and Minneapolis,” she explained. “It was a great excuse to go to a new place, and it’s a great way to see the city by running it. We were only there for three days but we got to see so much. When we did those trips we’d find the highlights and would not spend long there.”

Even though Lyndsay has many more destinations on her lifelong bucket list, she definitely has encountered some favorites so far. She says Europe is one place she and Adam enjoy, especially

Lyndsay with vacation boat
Snorkeling in St. Thomas

London, and she’d love to return to Paris again. In the beachy locations, she says St. Kitts is a favorite as well as Fiji. And she’s been to Maui three times, raving over the beauty, the culture and the opportunity to see all the different sites and still be on American soil.

Her process is repeated easily: plan, travel, then blog.

“For me it’s a scrapbook that I can look back and remember all the things we did,” she says. “It’s too hard to go back and look through photos and find all those details, so it’s much easier to write it all down and have a reference for me and for other people. Or maybe it gives people an idea of where they want to go.”

At her age, Lyndsay has already seen and done more than most people do in a lifetime. She knows she’s fortunate, but she also says she puts in the time to accomplish those goals.

“It’s fun and very doable for anyone. I’m not lucky, I’m just making it a priority and doing the work,” she says. “it takes me a long time to plan out the trip we want to do. We plan it, take it and it’s great!”


Degree helps alum land emergency management dream job

It may have taken a few twists, turns and maybe even detours, but Christopher Shay is now in his dream job. Serving as the training program manager and state training officer for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Emergency Management since September 2021, Christopher says he feels he was able to pull together all his life’s experiences and his Wayland education to really make a difference.

Christopher ShayBut all that might never have happened had Christopher not stepped out in faith and trusted his own abilities to improve his life.

“When I was a child and a teenager, I didn’t really think I was smart academically. I struggled with that for quite a while and was raised with a childhood that wasn’t supportive of academics or even a Christian lifestyle,” said Christopher, a native of Culpeper, Va. “Without the ability to tamp down my ADHD and having doubts about my own intelligence, I joined the Army at age 20.”

Back to the books

As his time with the Army began to come to a close, he decided he needed to complete the associate’s degree he had started at Cochise College in Sierra Vista and began looking for places to continue his bachelor’s degree. After learning that Wayland worked well with Cochise College students and did not require an entrance exam for adult learners, he decided that Wayland Baptist University would be a great fit.

“What I was looking for in a college was a place that had a Christian learning environment, had good values and morals, and would take me on. I knew I was a hot mess and needed a little correction,” laughs Christopher.

Christopher followed his nearly 11 years of Army service with military contractor positions while he worked on his degree. He was nearing the conclusion when he had the opportunity to advance in his

Shay training exercise
Shay acts as patient in Virginia training exercise.

career and ended up deploying to Iraq, then Afghanistan, for a total of 5 years and 9 months. When Christopher returned to the States, he reached out to Wayland to finally complete the degree, doing his coursework online since he was now in Virginia.

Aiming higher

By this point, Christopher had built up the confidence to realize he could not only complete a college degree but also pursue advanced degrees. And, he knew what the graduate degree would be: a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree with specializations in Homeland Security/Emergency Management from Wayland. Pursuing that field became a goal built in part on past experiences.

“For many years, the intelligence field was very rewarding and exciting. But when you are supporting warfighters in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, the stress does tend to mount up. You are making a lot of analytical judgments to commanders that are going to direct their units based on the intelligence you provide. Good intelligence is right maybe 60% of the time; it’s not foolproof,” he noted about his military and civilian years. “After some not-great experiences with contractors over the years, I thought about emergency management. I’ve always had an admiration for the field.”

Christopher completed his MPA in 2018 and continued working other jobs while waiting for a position in the new field to open. He finally got the opportunity in 2021 and officially started in September. Christopher’s experience as an instructor in the Army, and as a special education teacher in their home city of Fredericksburg, came in handy as the position involves lots of training and instruction.

“A lot of my main duties are focused on serving my staff, which includes two academic technicians that set all the courses up for incident command or other professional courses that emergency managers have to take for their certifications and career progression. We offer the courses in both physical and virtual options, and we try to mix that up,” he explained. “So, I’m approving the programs to be taught, approving travel requests and training requests, and trying to coordinate the training and development program for our division so we can get more people to get their training at different locales around our state. The training is designed for emergency management professionals, whether they work in fire, EMS, law enforcement, or other closely related support fields. It’s our responsibility to provide that training so they have multiple avenues to get it done.”

Behind the scenes

Christopher said his first few months on the job have also involved interviewing vendors who will help the department modify and modernize their online and hybrid learning systems. Since he is jointly in charge of internal agency education, that involves moderating the website programs for training employees in areas unrelated to emergency management but that are greatly needed.

“The tertiary duty I provide is as an essential support function in the time of an emergency, the Essential Support Function (ESF) 17, which is volunteer management. If I get activated for something, I have to respond to the Virginia Emergency Operations Center and perform these management functions,” he said. “It’s my job to coordinate with agencies, like the Red Cross or Team Rubicon, and let them know where we need response. That’s what I do when I’m on call and activated. Of course, I have to be trained for all that and having knowledge of ESF 17 is essential, based on my experiences in volunteering with churches and outreach entities.”

Now that he’s in this rewarding role, Christopher reflected on how vital his Wayland graduate degree was in preparing him for it.

Shay family

The Shay family includes Christopher and Cynthia (back),

daughter Kyla, 25, and son-in-law AJ, almost 28, and twin

granddaughters. The Shays also have a son, Kaleb, 24.

“I had some really great instructors, especially Dr. Juan Gonzales, who was probably the one I learned the most from. They were always accessible and available to us,” he noted of his Wayland experience. “A lot of what they taught me is actually coming to fruition in my current position, especially from the emergency management side. What they were teaching is what I am doing now. Being in training and development is exactly how they taught that.”

He also believes that his new agency is a great segue from his military years and has several similarities, like the lingo, use of acronyms and jargon. Christopher’s family, which includes his high school sweetheart and wife of nearly 29 years, Cynthia; two grown children, Kyla and Kaleb, and twin granddaughters who are almost two, are supportive of his new role and excited for his impact.

“There is a strong camaraderie to emergency management, and that’s another thing that really attracted me to this field. They are very supportive of military veterans and actively seek and recruit prior military,” Christopher said. “It’s a great fit, and I got a really good education for it. The sky’s the limit now.”


Devotional: Mean what you say

During a local church evangelism event in Atlanta, Georgia, we were privileged to hear the singing of Derek De Cambra from the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York. He was a strong Christian, closely associated with the great bass, Jerome Hines, who wrote the only opera about Jesus, “I Am the Way.”

That evening, I visited with Derek for a long time. Finally, I said, “Pray for me.”

Speaking girlsInstead of saying, “I will,” he took both of my hands in his and prayed earnestly for me. Then, he said, “Being a public figure and traveling a lot, I met a lot of people as a young Christian. So, over and over, people would say, 'Pray for me,' and I would answer, “I will.”

“Then I was convicted that I was lying to those people. A day later, they were out of mind, and I had not prayed for them. That is when I stopped promising things that were easy to say but that I did not mean. If someone asks me to pray for them, I do it right then. No more glib lies.”

How easily in personal conversation, on the phone, and through social media, we say or write, “Praying, praying for you today, lifting you up, you have my prayers, etc.”

How often are we saying things that come easily but are shallow and quickly forgotten? God’s word for me today has been, “Mean what you say.”

If you are not going to pray earnestly right now, do not say that you are. Mean what you say.

“Do not be quick with your mouth." Ecclesiastes 5:2, NASB

Wayne Bristow is a 1960 graduate of Wayland and worked as a pastor and worldwide evangelist and author before founding Total Life Ministries in 1993. He also worked for the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and for the Baptist Convention of Oklahoma. Retired in Edmond, Okla., Wayne was married to WBU ex Robbie for 62 years before her death in June 2021. They have one son and two grandchildren. 


From the History Files

This month's history recap continues a series about some of the historic buildings on the main campus in Plainview, where Wayland was founded in 1908.

Wilder Field

Aside from the Hutcherson Center during volleyball and basketball season, another favorite sports facility on the Wayland campus is David & Myrt Wilder Field. Located just west of Hutch on the corner of 8th and Xenia, Wilder Field is a relatively new addition, dedicated in 1999 as the home of the Pioneer Baseball program.

Wilder Field features covered seating for 810 people, a full press box, inning-by-inning score board and attached practice infield. Restrooms, concessions, picnic plaza and a first-class sound system add to the baseball experience for visitors.

The facility also features a turf infield, indoor and outdoor batting cages and two locker rooms. The outfield fence measures 325 feet down the right- and left-field lines and 395 at the center field fence. In the evenings, the Pioneers play under eight 100' light poles that encompass the baseball field. 

One of the premier baseball facilities in Wayland's conference and the region, Wilder Field is a busy place once the spring hits with daily practices and home games regularly. The Pioneers recently kicked off their 2022 season and will have their home opener Feb. 11-12 with a series against Peru State.