Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Aren't You a Little Short for a Storm Trooper?

Princess Leia Organa, Carrie Fisher, you embodied the story I love.
1977 is stamped on the back of the leg of this action figure that I unpacked from a storage tote today. We're moving to our new house in Sidney, Ohio. Earlier in the day I had a news alert on my smart-phone, Carrie Fisher had died. 

I was shocked at the emotion that burst in like a flood. It was as if every good part of my child-hood suddenly shattered. I felt like I'd lost a family member. I was born in 1974 and I remember when my world was expanded while watching Star Wars. My entire life has been framed in the metaphor of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia. Their is hope and a good that is worth more than life. 

I remember carrying this same action figure of Princess Leia to West Elkton Elemetary where more figures were brought by my friends, Kevin Dyehouse and Jerry Schul. Star Wars captivated us in our Kindergarten year of 1979 and held us tight with the hope of all things good throughout the tumultuous years of growing up.

The story of a small group of friends, loyal to each other, beating down evil and saving the universe, it made us somehow feel that we could survive in this world. 

And now the breath is somehow knocked out of me as I realize that my reality must take on the nature of the tale. The story gave us what it could, and now we must be about the lessons that it gave to us. 

"Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?" Leia asked this when she first met Luke. Hope was found in the armor of the enemy. Isn't this just like our lives? Hope is strongest when we see it in the middle of certain defeat. So much of my life has always been this way.

My faith is repeatedly restored in moments when it seems that all hope is lost. 

And so now, on the eve before our family loads up a U-Haul truck and heads sixty-five miles north to Sidney, my broken heart is filled with the hope of a space princess who risked her life to save worlds. I am reminded of the power of belief, of faith, and the significance of our actions. 

I'll confess to you that I'm a little short for a storm trooper. I've sometimes been seen as lacking by others, and I've frequently identified myself this same way. And it's true. I just don't measure up. But, I have a hope. The story that envelops me is greater than my ability. I engage that story and I am carried by something that is so much bigger than myself.

Today I mourn the death of Carrie Fisher, but deep inside my heart, I feel the force of the story that she embodied. The story that captivated my childhood heart, and beats strong within me even today. We carry within us the passion of the greatest of stories. The light that shines within us can conquer the dark side of any problem. 

I latch on to the hope that extends beyond circumstance, and is grounded deep within my childhood. I may be a little short for a storm trooper, but the power of something greater runs strong within my life. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Longing for a Better Country - Announcing Our New Home

All these people died having faith. They didn’t receive the things that God had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. They acknowledged that they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth. Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for their own country. If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they could have found a way to go back. Instead, these men were longing for a better country—a heavenly country. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them. -Hebrews 11:13-16

On the nineteenth day of July, nearly five months ago, Kellie and I began a new faith journey when we announced that we were leaving Guatemala. Our message was clear, God commanded us to immediately go back to Ohio and wait. 

I remember the calling of the disciples when Jesus said their names, told them to follow him, and they immediately dropped their nets. 

I've always wondered if I'd have the stuff to do exactly that; to simply drop everything and follow.

In that moment late last summer, God gave us exactly that choice. Would we follow Him, without reservation, or would we chose to sit safely mending our nets (Mt 4:18-20)?

August the first Kellie and the kids boarded their flight as I set out with my uncle Stephen on a 3,000 mile road trip out of Guatemala, up through Mexico, and across the southern states. Within the week we reunited in Trenton, Ohio and began to wait on the LORD.

We made our faith walk public, sharing with transparency our hearts and inviting anyone who might read along the path as we met unexpected turns and encountered people along the way who strengthened our faith. God has blessed us as we've shared the good times and the tough times with you.

In October of 2014 I was invited by the Ohio State Pastor of the Church of God to present Journey Church Guatemala as part of her Director's Report at the Ohio GeneraSl Assembly. Little did I know that God was weaving a plan even in that moment. There was one other pastor that the director had asked to tell of his congregation, Pastor Alan Leach of Connection Point Church.

My search this fall for the place where I could serve in pastoral ministry led me back to the office of the state director. Rev. Dr. Cottrell presented me with six congregations in need of pastors, with one of them being an associate position with Connection Point.

From the first time Kellie and I met with Alan and Kim, there was an undeniable match in spiritual DNA. Over the past months God has confirmed over and over that Connection Point is that place that God has now made known to us. Our hearts are grateful and our souls are at peace.

Today in an all church business meeting, the people who call Connection Point their home church affirmed that calling and I accepted the position of Associate Pastor with great appreciation! My first day with them will be January 1, 2017.

Through our lives, God has made it clear that He demands obedience and faithful steps if we are to follow Him. 

Sometimes that means dropping everything. Sometimes that means shocking a few folks, and even raising some eyebrows. Then again, should we really be so surprised?

Jesus was scandalous. He shocked the religious elite. He was called traitor, blasphemer, and devil. When he calls us to follow him, he does not promise a safe life. He does not promise a comfortable life. He promises that he will never leave us. He promises that he is the way back to God. He promises that he goes to prepare a place for us. 

So, wherever you are in life, this world is not your home. We all long for a better country.

For the Shepherd family, in the meantime, He has called us to a new place to join new faces that already have become family, as together we take faithful and bold steps in His story.

Thank you to all who continue to pray with us. We love you. Thank you to all who we have encountered along the way. We have new brothers and sisters in North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan, Indiana, Denver, Kansas, and here in Ohio. God is inviting us all, "Follow me." 

From all our different points on the map, let's keep taking bold, faithful steps of obedience. 

Connection Point
1510 Campbell Road
Sidney, Ohio

Friday, December 9, 2016

Teaching Tiny Little Humans

This was me, sheltered in the teacher's restroom after one of the most challenging days I've ever experienced to earn a dollar. The final call of the day had just rang out from the intercom, "Students who ride bus, Red Giraffe are now dismissed to the bus area." I'm feeling one-third insane, one-third inadequate, and one-third in awe. 

Just a few hours ago I held the tiny hands of two souls. 

One little boy, let's call him Taylor, had the most beautiful blue eyes that I've ever seen. They were bright and endless, but their magic came with a harsh price. They were crossed with such a severity that depth perception was impossible. He understood my words, but his verbalizations were limited to a few simple sounds that came only with concentrated effort.

Much of my day was spent in his embrace, with his head pressed up against my own, and my suit-jacket now bears crystalized evidence of his pure affection, anointed by steady streams of saliva and nose-drip. I'll confess to at least eight moments of gag-reflex suppression. The most critical moment was when I nearly vomited after his spit-covered fist somehow slipped into my open mouth, leaving a spit trail in my beard.

He was thrilled with the tower I'd build out of little wooden people. When it fell from the impact of a series of dominos, he lit up with sheer joy, and my face filled up with his fist of celebratory saliva. He shrieked with joy and I nearly barfed. I've never felt simultaneous feelings of success and revulsion. I suppose I'm glad that it happened, but I don't want it to ever happen again. 

My other hand had held on to Xian. 

He was abandoned in China right after birth. Orphaned no more, he now is very loved by the family who adopted him here. His little life has already known more pain than most of us will see in a lifetime. He has had multiple open-heart surgeries, lacks the cognitive ability to speak, and carries a diagnosis of severe autism. 

He beats himself in the face when frustration overcomes his mind. This compulsion has cost him some teeth, and damaged the roots below. He seems to never be comfortable. He can't sit still, but it requires pain and effort to move. His default action is to hug you, but he may also quickly bite, pinch, or hit you if he becomes overwhelmed or feels threatened. Then he deals with his own remorse and self-punishes while punching again his own face.

I see the brokenness of the world reflected in them. There is so much beauty... and so much pain. It's all there concentrated in them, the best of us and the most damaged of us, all crammed into those little cute, volatile human spaces. Who among us doesn't at times feel exactly this same way? How many times would we like to cry out at injustice, or lash out at the pain that surrounds us?

I look into their eyes and I see myself.

Yesterday I taught in a different building where I found myself surrounded by thirty-two third-graders. My personal goal quickly degraded from "Teach them things," to "survive the day." Did you know that thirty-two tiny humans can somehow run in sixty-four directions? "Mr. Shepherd - Mr. Shepherd - Mr. Shepherd" was spoken so many times that it began to sound like sea-gulls that were swarming around my feet. 

And there was this one little fella. I couldn't get rid of him. Literally. He would run up my backside. In my attempt to teach the tiny human multitude, I'd lose track of him only to realize that he was again standing behind me. He asked questions at all the wrong times (constantly), and wanted my full attention. 

He asked me if I had a little boy. 

What do you do when a little fella asks if you'll be his daddy? 

At the end of the day, he came to me and said that he loved me. He extended out his hand and held what has always been my favorite toy, a little lego man. He looked up at me and said, "You can have it if you want it." I told him, "Oh, thank you so much. That is very kind of you, but I just can't take your lego man. You need him more than I do." He said, "No, you have to take him. I want you to have him and I have more at home." Again I said, "No, He needs you, but you can think of me when you play with him." 

He walked away with the lego man in his hand. The bell rang and the students filed out of the room. 

And so, at the end of the day tonight, I was thinking of Xian and Taylor. I was thinking of my little lego buddy from a day ago. I was reflecting on how exhausted, spent, and somehow filled that I find myself tonight. I gave thanks to God for the remarkable care-givers that work in those schools, the loving parents, and the grace that lives in the beautiful brokenness of those tiny humans.

Our family has a big weekend coming up. We're going to stand for a vote of affirmation at a church. Hopefully we'll soon tell you of our new home. 

I was cleaning out my leather bag that I'd carried this week, and in the bottom, looking up at me with a side-ways grin, I saw the little lego man. That little fella from two days ago had walked away from my refusal to receive his gift, and he'd slipped it into my bag on the other side of the room.

I have a treasure now. This little lego man will go with me to my new office in a few days. When I look at him I'll remember the beautifully broken tiny humans that taught me so much.

How to see with broken eyes. How to laugh with a crying face. How to give hugs when the world offers fear. And how to give when you see someone overwhelmed and trying. 

Teaching tiny little humans? No, the tiny little humans are here to show us the way. 

When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, 
"Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God 
belongs to those who are like these children.
Mark 10:14

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Substitute Teaching - Beyond the Surface

His right hand and wrist were in a black brace to try to reduce the trembling. His left thumb was bleeding from torn skin alongside the nail. The noise of the class made it hard for him to concentrate and his paper was blank except for his name that was written in pencil in the upper left corner. He startles easily and I spend some extra time with him as we work together through the worksheet. 

I think it was the look in his eyes that captured my attention. They were so blue, so clear, and they looked so alone. What happens in a life that leads us to isolation?

More often than not, there is more than we can see. Each person has a story to tell. There is tremendous worth when we take the time to look.

The clock tower of St. John Church visible from a converted storage closet.

Caught up in the boon of the roaring twenties, Stephen Vail School was opened in Middletown, Ohio in 1923. Boasting study halls with ceilings that soared over fifteen feet high, marble walls and floors, silver and gold trimmed lobbies, an indoor running track, oak paneled executive offices complete with a fireplace, silk tapestries, Tiffany chandeliers, and a 1300 seat auditorium with black leather chairs, the school was among the best in the nation, and was a prototype for aspiring schools around the world. 

One of two large study halls, impressive in scale and detail.

The day I received my license to substitute teach in Ohio, I knew that I wanted a chance to get inside this historical landmark and treasure from the past. What saddens me is that the locals don't view this majestic school through the lens of its wonder, but it is seen as just another building in decay on the wrong side of the tracks. 

Built in 1923 with projection capability and a building-wide air flow system.

So often we freely abandon the most beautiful pieces of our lives because they just become common place. Residents here have driven past this school for decades and they miss the treasure that stands like a monument in their midst, representing the better parts of us all. 

I opened an old, wooden door that I thought led to a janitor's closet,
to find an abandoned planetarium inside.

Streets that once bore witness to patent leather, silver buckled boots, top-hats, and the light step of men and women who found happiness in this place, have now given way to disrepair, down-cast faces, and the scourge of epidemic drug abuse. It's Christmastime here in Middletown, but this place is like George Bailey's dark alternate universe. It's like hope jumped from the bridge long ago and now the streets only carry the traffic of the bleak.

The outer dome of the planetarium.

Many here only see the darkness, the dust, and the brokenness. But, the scale is still vast, the floors and walls are still solid marble, and the spirit of those who built this architectural declaration of the human spirit in an era that saw the Model T Ford, the first radio station, the birth of Jazz, and women's right to vote still speaks to us if we'll only listen. 

Illustrations & notes from my 6th Bell Teaching Session.

My day spent in this building yielded deeper treasure still. The students who gather here now are descendants from those who walked these halls nearly one hundred years ago. Their stories are not yet fully written. It remains to be seen if they embrace the darkness that is easily seen, or if they might dig deep to find the treasure that is here.

Today we discussed some ideals that span across the decades: a love of our founding documents, the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, a deep respect and appreciation for law enforcement, and what it means to be a responsible and accountable human being, daring to reach out, dream big, and take a risk for a better life.

For me, it is my faith that inspires these conversations. I was able to share with the students bits of our families' experiences like adoption and mission. The inevitable questions of "Why" always follow, and that allows me to share the story of Christ in places where the ground is fertile.

For me anyway, the day was all that I hoped it could be... as I glimpsed the glory of a city in her prime, embraced the pain of the day, and made a small effort to love the people who exist in the convergence of times in that space.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Reality of Unicorns

We have great discussions in my household. The best ones begin with questions or statements from my kids that spark a sort of knowledge quest. 

"Dad, do you think unicorns were real?" I stall my answer as I try to measure the nature of her question. "Unicorns? What leads you to ask me about unicorns?" She says, "Well, the Bible talks about them." Her brother says, "Only in the King James." 

The next twenty minutes were a race through the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), comparisons of translations, glimpses into Hebrew transliterations, and a discussion of both two horn and single horn rhinoceroses. 

Ultimately, the conversation ended with a declaration that unicorns did in fact exist as horseys with a sparkly, twisty horn, but pegasus did not exist because it is ridiculous to have a horse with wings. 

I suppose I'm willing to agree. I kind of like the idea of a fierce horse that can defend itself with a horn. I think though, even at a deeper level I'm just drawn to the concept of belief. I remember the excitement of belief that I had as a child when I encountered stories of dragons, space, and adventure. 

Life these past few months has had its moments of disbelief. Long bleak days accompany the southwestern Ohio fall as the warm days seem to be consumed by a winnowing force. There have been moments when I've mourned the things left behind. The relationships that were held tight through daily proximity now seem artificial through the sterile environment of internet communication.

Questions can turn inward in those quiet moments and the scrutiny of others can take on fears of mythological size. Making dramatic change in life always involves risk. Even when a risk is measured, the tick, tick, tick of the days can be maddening when viewed as inaction. While our days have been filled with activity, society demands neat answers. 

I've been masterful at making ends meet for a time, and yet this artful ability to blend into the needs of the moment... at times just feels charlatan. While substitute teaching these past few days, I've been offered two long term positions that I'm not qualified to have. I chuckle to see that I've convinced others that I'm a qualified teacher, but also admit to days when I silently wondered if I was capable of anything.

Sometimes it is good to remember the power of belief. My daughter says that unicorns exist and I'm not ready to shoot down her wonder. Maybe they do. Maybe this is where you stop reading? Maybe you'll miss the unicorn.

It is time to believe. Joshua kept walking on day six. David kept walking as the giant loomed near. Daniel kept walking as the lions roared below. Paul kept walking even when his eyes were blinded. Jesus kept walking even after Gethsemane.

When I chose to open my eyes and see the grace that is offered when I follow my God, then what was a threat becomes nothing more than a great chance to discover Him more through the challenging terrains of life. This holiday season our family gives thanks. We are aware that we are where we are because we have chosen to be faithful.

I think there is no better place to be.

There is more to life than we can perceive at any given moment or perspective. The past stretches before us as we contemplate its effect on today. With our eyes on the past, we walk backwards into the future, trusting that our feet will continue to fall in alignment with the past that has brought us to this present. 

While we cannot see what lies ahead, we are sure of our place because of where we have been. "Dad, do you think unicorns are real?" 

I think it matters that I continue to expect them to be.    

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Pastor, A Rabbi, & Aspiring Rocket Scientists

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us
are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.
Henry David Thoreau

A Pastor and a Rabbi walk into a classroom... yes, that's how my day began, and I was the Pastor. I joked with a friend from Guatemala today, "My geography has changed, but my life is still weird."

Meanwhile, in another classroom across metropolis, my wife, Kellie was teaching a class of rocket scientists. They were logged into the NASA simulator entering their algorithms and scribbling their mathematical proofs onto lined paper as their crafts crashed, and crashed again.

Two true scenarios, both reflective of the way we tackle life, you say, "Yes" to opportunity and see where it takes you. Somewhere between the serendipity of converged timelines and humble steps is the providence of God.

As Kellie and I continue to wait on the LORD for our next steps, substitute teaching is a way that we can stay sharp and still do a little good in the waiting. Kellie is a pro, and I'm more of a hack, but I'm also pretty versatile.

It was good for me to step into a new unknown, I felt like a red-shirt from Star Trek taking dust blown steps on a frontier planet. Even so, there was a certain confidence that came as I recognized the similarities of days spent in Guatemala at Christian American School (shout out, love you guys), and I am thankful for this time of walking down corridors.

Kellie had the East covered and I held the West, as together we served a community and engaged a few of their youth. A Pastor and a Rabbi entered a classroom and shook hands. There is more in this world that binds us together than should ever be allowed to tear us apart. 

For God has not given us
a spirit of fear and timidity,
but of power, love, and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Ten Thousand Miles Since Guatemala

"Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance. They make the latitudes and longitudes."
Henry David Thoreau

Late last week I rolled past 10,000 miles driven since leaving Guatemala on August 1, ninety days ago. If you do some quick math, that is an average of over 100 miles a day since the day I said goodbye our mission there. I've not stopped moving since kilometer one.

These past months are like an old motion picture reel that flashes images of everyone I know and everyplace I've ever been as we've engaged this faith journey to find our next faithful steps. We've admittedly gone where few would dare and many would identify as foolish.

Twice now we've traded away everything for a promise. More than that I suppose, if you consider the two international adoptions. Each of those involved leveraging every resource. 

I've covered some ground. I've made incredible friends that are closer than I knew possible (#BurningHearts), and I've found family that I miss from across the expanse. So many have forever shaped who I am. My heart misses you.

It has been easy to question my worth these past several months. It is so reckless to be a 42 year old who is intentionally homeless and unemployed. And so radical to claim that I'm following the command of God. People want to know, "What is the real reason that you are here?"

It's this odd place that I find myself in. When I confirm that the story is only what I've said it is, that we are in this place of waiting because God commanded it, people believe that I'm hiding a real reason. Maybe you've heard some of the rumors? They're quite entertaining, albeit a bit painful. 

Well... I've covered some miles. I've gained some experiences. I've gained some perspective. As Taylor Swift would say, "The haters gonna hate, hate, hate," and that's ok with me. Folks like a good story anyway. I suppose that I'm not above being the target of a good tale. Fire away. 

Meanwhile, in Trenton Ohio I'm just here waiting on the Lord. 

He has been faithful. He is meeting our needs. He is directing our paths. We do not worry. He is our Lord no matter what the outcome. I praise Him for each word I've written, and each step we've taken in these last four months. 

Ten thousand miles so far, and I give thanks for each one.

Images from our excursion to 
Pleasant Prairie Church in Santanta, Kansas
"Faith Promise Weekend"

Gateway to the West, St. Louis Missouri

Kellie and Sterling (age 5). Caleb & Aleksandra stayed behind
to attend Ohio Youth Convention of the Church of God.

Sterling had no fear at the top of the Arch.

A snapshot from the top using my Samsung Note 4

Close up of the Northern leg.

A day later, our first sign that we'd been driving the right direction!

Honoring one of our mentors and inspirations, Roma Lee Courvoisier

They took me pheasant hunting.
Those boots are from Guatemala!

Kellie tells of our life in Guatemala at a luncheon

Sterling could not be contained.

We found that we had dear friends in Kansas. 

Children donate to Faith Promise, the funding mechanism for Church of God Missions. It all began right here in the 1960s under pastor Frank Courvoisier.
We are so thankful to have set feet on this ground.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Half Past Midnight

It wasn't that long ago when I balanced on that rock on St. Mary's Glacier in Colorado. Some might make a sort of judgmental claim of my crane pose. I have to tell you that I have no time for your commentary. My savior is Jesus Christ, and I find peace in this stance. While I hold it, I breath out worries and I breath in his peace. 

Right now I type these words at half past midnight in Trenton, Ohio. I feel like that I should give a slight nod to this moment of waiting. In our culture we seem to demand progress, and yet I am here to tell you that there is value in the waiting. In this moment I have nothing new to tell you. 

No epic news is ready for communication. I lay in bed in the house of Joe and Sharon Johnson wearing a Batman onesie. There is a picture of me with my children, along with my wife who was wearing a Wonder-Woman shirt (and rocking it), but she doesn't want to share it. I've worn this onesie every night since that night. It is quite warm and comfie. I am thankful that it doesn't have those plastic feet of childhood that were so hot.

Those of you who are bold have asked, "So do you have a job yet?" Or, "Do you have a church yet?" Or, "Do you have an income source yet?" I appreciate your questions and I am thankful that you care enough to ask. I answer your questions, "No." Well, sort of. I mean, we're not bums and so we want to contribute to society and so Kellie is serving as a Substitute Teacher and I'm completing the process to do the same.

Caleb is rocking his dual credit classes and gaining college credit as a Junior, Aleksandra is nailing straight "A's" in her online courses, Sterling is screeching through her homeschool kindergarten, and I am here finishing my master's degree and sorting through the options of our future. 

Our next move is unknown and we're ok with that. Sure we've had some obstacles and some unexpected expenses. But I can tell you that God has provided each dollar. We're beyond our budget and yet we're not yet starving. We thank God for our parents and for partners that still stand beside us. 

We believe that we have been prepared for this moment. The big announcement is yet to come. I don't know if it happens this week, in a month, or in the next calendar year. I simply know that God holds it and that is enough for me.

It may be half past midnight, but we serve the God of the morning. When the Sun rises, you'll find us here. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Twilight's Last Gleaming: by Air

Sometimes you've just gotta find that place to soar above it all. We stand at the peak of our three-month furlough with our days as foreign missionaries behind us, and an endless horizon up ahead. This past week in Denver has reminded us  that this time is intentional, our days together are precious, and our path is surely guided by the Spirit of God.

Jason Lee message on WORSHIP (audio)
Where the Streets Have No Name
Life is worship. Praise is like the roar of a lion, declaring that all who are within the sound of my voice are subject to my influence. With all the competing sounds of the world, there is no better time than now to blast out a forceful declaration that God is worthy and He alone is Holy. I stood at the close of the service at Bear Valley with tears running down my face as I allowed the peace of God to fill me once again.

Earlier in the week we paused to remember the students and teachers who lost their lives at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. We read about the great legacy of students who believed in God, and even chose death rather than deny their faith.

We also read the words of survivors, reminding us that each day is meant to be shared together, and that each breath we take is a great gift: to be lived, to make a difference, to embrace each other.

Surely, for each of us these days can be lived to honor those who have died in the name of God, of faith, and even of country. My love for this nation has grown over the past week and I believe that as we walk by faith, we are a shining light in the gleaming of the twilight. There is still good left here.

Something began to heal in me as we walked with the Lee family along St. Mary's glacier. It was if the presence of God found us in the heights of the Rockies. The last three months of intentional rest have produced a calmness in our spirit, and a closeness that we've not felt before as a family. I think we've been able to look doubters, uncertainty, naysayers, and convention directly in the eye... and learned to laugh. 

Fear is a paper tiger. To walk in the Spirit is to roar like a lion. 

This is our time to survey the land and roar. We are where we are out of obedience. Our steps have been intentional, thoughtful, and have landed us right where we need to be. God continues to unfold His will for our lives as we whole-heartedly chase each step. I love that we've been transparent with each pursuit. There have been closed doors, disappointments, and confirmations given at times by a spoken, "No." 

And still we have no regrets. We give thanks for the labyrinth of secret chambers, unseen turns, and winding exploration that discovers a singular destination through this foreordained excursion. While the turns may seem unexpected, each step is necessary to arrive at the center.

And so, as these days continue to find us entering new territory, we do so with deep thanks to the Spirit of God that has guided us so far. Our plan is to continue searching for the stardust wonder of the Spirit, even through days of kicking sand on the land, feeling the pull of the deep waves of the sea, or even standing on the heights of the air. 


Where shall I go from your Spirit?

    Or where shall I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.

 ~From Psalm 139

Read all of the three part series: The Twilight's Last Gleaming

 (1) By Land

(2) By Sea

(3) By Air