Planters, Waterers, Harvesters—Trusting God’s Plan

As I mentioned in a recent post, I (Mike) have an opportunity to share devotions where I work—the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society. Good Sam is a Christian organization that provides senior living across the U.S., and it’s a blessing to be able to safely share my faith at work.

One of my recent devotions relied on one of our favorite experiences from our walk and the lesson learned from that experience. It’s a story we shared a handful of times during our journey, and it was fun to be able to connect it with the message of my devotion.

If you want to watch the video, I’ll include it below (or you can click this link to watch it on YouTube). The main point of the message is simple. Sometimes God uses us to plant the seed of Christ’s love in another’s heart. Other times, our job is to water and nurture a seed that someone else has planted, helping it to grow in exciting ways. Still other times, our job is to harvest the seed, leading someone to accept Christ as our Savior.

The hard part is that we don’t always know which job we have. Sometimes we want to see the harvest and all we’re able to do is plant the seed. Other times, we enjoy the excitement of the harvest because of the labor of others who faithfully planted and watered. The important thing is that, through our actions, our words, and our trust in God’s plan for our lives, we have the ability to make an impact for God’s kingdom. Kind of puts an exciting twist on farming, doesn’t it?

Here’s the video:

Do you have any experiences with planting, watering and/or harvesting? What do you find are the challenges and joys of the labor?

Thanks for reading, and we’ll be posting again soon.

-Mike, Lindsie, Jack and Jaeda

A Devotion on Being Bold for Christ

Jack half-birthdayHey friends,

For those of you who didn’t know, life has been a little crazy for us lately. Our 6-month-old, Jack, has officially started crawling, which means we ourselves spend a good chunk of time on the floor both playing with him and doing our best to corral him when he breaks for the stairs. We’re also doing a basement renovation (although, if we’re being honest, Lindsie is doing most of the renovation, as painting tends to be a passion project of hers…I just had the fun job of tearing out all of our carpet down there). Needless to say, there’s a lot happening in the Billeter household.

That being said, we wanted to share some important stuff happening in our spiritual lives. One of the biggest blessings for us since completing our walk and settling back down in South Dakota has been my job at the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society. Good Sam is the nation’s largest non-profit senior living provider in the United States. But even cooler than that is the fact that it’s a Christian organization, which isn’t always easy to find these days.

For me, that means working at a place that opens every meeting in prayer, allows us to have faith-driven conversations at work, and, one of my favorite things, gives us a chance to attend (and, if desired, lead) devotions five days a week at 10 AM.

While I haven’t led a ton of devotions in the past year, I have led a handful, and I wanted to share some of those on here in case they can either encourage people in their own walks with Christ, or at least lead to a deeper discussion.

We’re also hoping to start writing here on the blog on a more regular basis again. Jack (our son) is consistently sleeping through the night now, so it feels a little easier to crank away on a computer after he goes to bed than it did a few months ago, when I’d fall asleep with my hand on the keyboard and leave a long trail of jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj’s before realizing I had dozed off.

Hope you enjoy the devotion, and please don’t hesitate to drop us a line if you want to talk more. We can be reached by email at stormingjericho (at) gmail (dot) com, or you can leave a comment on the post. We’re just thankful to have an opportunity to share the Word and continue serving this glorious Lord of ours.

Thanks for continuing to check in on the site, and we’ll be back with more soon!

-Mike (and Lindsie)

A (late) Christmas update on the Billeters—and their new baby

Baby Jack - lights in color

It has been far too long since we last posted an update, but I’m going to be honest—things have been a little bit crazy in the Billeter household.

For starters, we have a household. After moving back to Sioux Falls in May, Lindsie and I bought a house, which we love. After spending a year sleeping in our tent on the side of the road, sleeping on the floors of churches, and sleeping in the guest bedrooms of generous hosts, moving into a house feels like we finally have a foundation to start the next stages of life.

Speaking of which… we had a baby!

Baby Jack in whiteJack David Billeter was born on November 6th, 2014. He weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces and initially measured at 20 ½ inches (but my dad, a basketball coach, insisted Jack was “taller” than that). A day or two later at our follow-up appointment, Jack was measured at 21 and ¼ inches, so I guess my dad was right.

Although I would never make the mistake of saying Lindsie’s delivery was “easy,” I would say that it went pretty smoothly by most people’s standards. We arrived at the hospital at 7:30 AM on November 6th and Jack was in our arms at 8:57 AM. It was a fast delivery, and we are so grateful that the Good Lord has blessed us with such a happy, healthy baby. We somehow manage to love him more and more by the day, and we’re looking forward to watching him grow up to be a strong, confident warrior for Christ.

Baby Jack in black and white lightsAll in all, we have just been overwhelmed by God’s goodness and grace in our lives, and it has given us plenty to reflect upon this Christmas. We hope that things are going well for you too.

We’re still working on our book (we have several chapters written, it’s just a matter of making sure everything feels right before we finish a full first draft), and we hope to have more developments on that front sooner than later. As always, feel free to email us at StormingJericho (at) gmail (dot) com if you want to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you and get an update on what’s going on in your world. And if you have any prayer requests, please don’t hesitate to let us know. When we’re up at 3:30 AM with our delightful-but-wide-awake baby, doing something productive like praying would be very helpful.

Thanks! We hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and we hope you have a blessed 2015.

In Christ,
Mike, Lindsie, Jack, and Jaeda

P.S. – Speaking of Jaeda, we should give an update on her. Although we’re thankful that she seems to truly love Jack, we’re also battling the fact that now she feels the need to fiercely defend him from any and all threats. That means when I (Mike) go to pick him up, my hands and fingers are usually in some sort of peril. So we’re praying that she eases up just a little bit, but knowing that little ball of fire, it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon. 🙂

Happy Easter from the Storming Jericho crew!

Christ is risen!Hey friends and family. We just wanted to get on and share a quick post on this beautiful Easter Sunday. With so much to be thankful for, we could probably write a 10-page post and still barely scratch the surface. But since we don’t want to keep you guys stuck inside reading all day, here are a few verses that we believe really hit home when it comes to what Easter is all about.

They may not be the typical/traditional Easter verses you’re used to, but we think they pack plenty of power nonetheless. The first is from Romans, when Paul writes in chapter 10, verse 9:

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Sometimes it seems like Easter morning sermons only focus on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and overcame death. That’s important, but I sometimes think the why of Jesus’ resurrection can be overlooked during an Easter sermon. The important thing isn’t just that Jesus rose from the dead—the important thing is that Jesus rose from the dead to SAVE us from our sin. It’s not just knowing that Jesus died for our sins that matters. It’s believing in our hearts that God raised him from the dead. Sometimes that’s not an easy thing to believe. After all, a resurrection isn’t exactly a common occurrence we see every day. That’s why the Bible tells us to believe it in our hearts.

In case you’re wondering if it’s really that important to believe, here’s a verse from 1 Corinthians 1:18 that helps emphasize why it’s not just important, but imperative that we believe:

“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.”

Jesus died for our sins so that we wouldn’t need to suffer destruction and death. As Paul tells us, those of us who know (and believe) that know it is the very power of God. We believe in the message of the cross and we believe in the power of God. Why? Because no other power could raise someone to life from death.

Our prayer on this Easter Sunday is that you also believe in the power of God and be saved. The story of Christ’s death on the cross to conquer sin and His resurrection from the grave to conquer death is a one-of-a-kind story that truly demonstrates just how much God cares for us. We encourage you to open up your Bible today and read that story for yourself.

We hope you have a fantastic Easter. The power of God is moving in all of us. We truly believe that, and we hope you do too.

Be blessed, and we’ll be back with another post soon.

-Mike and Lindsie (and Jaeda)

Tactics for Defending Your Christian Faith

Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian ConvictionsHey everybody, the Storming Jericho crew is back with an update and some thoughts we wanted to share. Linds and I continue to get acclimated to the realities of “normal life”—or everybody else’s definition of a normal life, at least—which has presented both some unique challenges and some awesome opportunities.

A few of those opportunities include getting involved in a church with consistency and regularity, having a car we can take to the grocery store, and getting to shower on a daily basis. You’d be surprised at how good a shower can feel when the memories of multiple days without showers still linger in your mind.

But for as nice as it is to have those things again, there are also some harsher realities we’ve come back to in this “normal” world we’ve reintroduced ourselves to. One of those harsher realities is the challenge we’re facing as Christians with a desire to be bold for Christ.

Our entire goal with our walk across America was to teach ourselves to trust and rely on God for provision while also spreading God’s word and sharing with others the incredible ways God took care of us on our journey. Throughout our walk we felt like we were able to do that successfully (at least by our standards of success). We were blessed with opportunities to share with church congregations, youth groups, families, and random individuals we met along the way.

But now we’re back in normal life, where it almost feels natural to scale back boldness and try to “fit in” to the world around us. We see things on Facebook criticizing and condemning Christianity, and it’s harder to speak up. We meet people we disagree with, but, for the sake of “normalcy,” we reserve our words of opposition. We don’t want to “cause a scene” or stir up trouble.

But the truth is, Jesus stirred up trouble. He stirred up trouble because he believed what his Father (God) had taught him. Jesus wasn’t afraid to cause a scene. And I’m not just referring to the turning of the tables in the temple. Jesus caused a scene when he criticized the Pharisees in public for twisting God’s laws for their personal benefit. He caused a scene when he defended the woman at the well. He caused a scene when he had every ability to save himself from crucifixion with just a few simple words but chose instead to die for our sins.

So why are we so afraid to cause a scene ourselves? As Jesus says in Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (New King James Version). If Jesus wasn’t afraid to bring a sword, why are we so afraid to even bring words of disagreement to a discussion that belittles or condemns our faith?

I personally feel like one reason we don’t stand up for ourselves is because many of us don’t know how. Many Christians grow up hearing the important stories (Noah and the ark, David and Goliath, the Christmas story, etc.), but are never taught how to defend our faith when it’s attacked.

Thankfully, this is by no means a lost cause. One of the first Christian books I read upon returning from our walk was a book called Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl (I’ve included a link to Amazon where you can purchase it). Here’s the description of Tactics, according to its Amazon page:

In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to get in the driver’s seat, keeping any conversation moving with thoughtful, artful diplomacy. You’ll learn how to maneuver comfortably and graciously through the minefields, stop challengers in their tracks, turn the tables and—most importantly—get people thinking about Jesus. Soon, your conversations will look more like diplomacy than D-Day. Drawing on extensive experience defending Christianity in the public square, Koukl shows you how to: – Initiate conversations effortlessly – Present the truth clearly, cleverly, and persuasively – Graciously and effectively expose faulty thinking – Skillfully manage the details of dialogue – Maintain an engaging, disarming style even under attack. Tactics provides the game plan for communicating the compelling truth about Christianity with confidence and grace.

Lindsie and I can both say with 100% certainty that Tactics is absolutely worth every penny, whether you buy the ebook version or the paperback version. Christians are going to continue facing challenges to their beliefs in the future. The Bible tells us so on several occasions. Jesus says in Luke 6:22,

“Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil for the Son of Man’s sake.” (NKJV)

It also says in John 15:20b-21,

“Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.” (New Living Translation)

Jesus tells us plainly and clearly that things won’t get any easier for us. They’re most likely going to get harder in the future. That’s why it’s so imperative that we not only have a firmly-rooted foundation in our beliefs, but that we also have the knowledge and tools to defend our faith.

As 1 Peter 3:15 tells us,

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…”

Jesus knew we’d face challenges after his death, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven. We’re called not to shy away from those challenges, but to stand up to those challenges and defend our faith.

So if you are the kind of person who feels more and more compelled to stand up for your beliefs and defend them in the face of adversity, Tactics provides an easy-to-follow game plan that gives you the foundation to achieve that goal. Of course, there will always be more to learn, but Tactics is a great start, so Lindsie and I both recommend it highly.

Thanks for reading, everyone. We’ll try to keep posts like this coming in the future. We’re also excited to share that we’ve begun writing the book chronicling our journey across America, the amazing miracles we experienced, and the incredible lessons we learned. We’ll have more info on that as we get closer to finishing it. For now, we encourage you to check out Tactics (or any other works from Greg Koukl and his staff at Stand To Reason).

God bless, and we’ll be back with more soon.

-Mike and Lindsie

Happy Birthday to Jesus!

Lindsie and Mike at ChristmastimeHey friends and family, we’re finally back with a new blog update! What inspired this return to the blog? The birth of our Savior, of course. We wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and we also thought we’d share a little news about what’s going on with us now that our journey is complete.

We’d like to start with a reminder of how blessed we are to have a Savior that our Heavenly Father sent down to earth for us. As we go about opening our presents, spending time with family, and probably eating too much delicious food, make sure you keep in mind that the little baby born in a manger would go on to give His life on the cross for our sins. The fact that God loves us that much is worth more than any presents we could unwrap or stockings we could unstuff.

We also wanted to let everyone know that we have officially gotten ourselves settled and situated in Springfield, Missouri (for at least the next 5 months). I, Mike, took a 6-month contract with an awesomely creative marketing agency in Springfield called deep group, and we’ll be figuring out our next steps from there.

Lindsie has enjoyed getting to spend a little time getting settled and doing things that people with a normal home do. She’s also working on getting certified as a medical coder, which will provide an opportunity for her to work from home part time, which we both think is a pretty good plan.

On a final note, we’ve officially started working on our book, which will both tell the story of our journey and also share with people the amazing things God did for us and through us spiritually as we traveled across the country. There’s still a long way to go, but we’re happy to be started, and we’re already enjoying the stories and adventures we’re reminiscing about while we write.

We’ll have more updates in the near future, especially now that we’ve gotten settled, so be on the lookout for an update from the Storming Jericho crew soon. Until then, we hope you have a blessed and very Merry Christmas!

-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda

One Journey Ends and Another Journey Begins

The road ahead of us on the way to Delaware...Once again, we apologize for the delay in this post. The past couple of weeks have been over-the-top hectic, and we have finally reached a point where things settled down enough to get a blog post written out. We appreciate your patience.

When we last left off, the Storming Jericho crew was getting ready to storm its way into Washington, D.C., which, as you can imagine, is a pretty busy place. Thankfully, a friend of mine (Mike’s) named Courtney had connected us with a former coworker in D.C., so Linds and I had a safe, comfortable place to stay during our time in Washington. The challenge, of course, was getting there.

Lindsie, Mike, and MikeOur journey into D.C. started the morning after our night in South Riding. One of the folks from Christ Church, Mike, had come to pick us up from the townhouse and bring us back out to the church so we could resume our travels. Mike was awesome, and we were thankful we got a chance to meet him, talk with him, and pray with him before we set off down the highway.

Then things got a little rocky. You would think that a major U.S. highway leading into a major metropolitan city like Washington, D.C., would have either a decent shoulder or a nice bike trail alongside the highway. Nope. Just a whole lot of lanes chock full of vehicles. As a result, Linds and I spent most of our morning struggling to find stretches of sidewalk wherever we could find them, or, worse, pushing our carts through the grass alongside the highway. Needless to say, it was a little exhausting.

Lindsie, Scott, and MikeAfter a few hours (and about 8 gallons of sweat) we made our way into the outskirts of D.C., and stopped to grab some lunch. While we were getting situated, we noticed two people walking up to us. That’s not uncommon, because people tend to take an interest in the weirdos wearing highlighter-bright clothes and pushing carts down the highway. What is slightly uncommon is when one of the people walking up to you is someone whose house you stayed at all the way back in Circleville, Utah, several months and several thousand miles ago. But that’s what happened when Scott, who we met back in Utah, walked up and said hello. Scott currently lives in D.C. and he had seen us walking by while he and his friend were driving down the road we were on. Needless to say, our brains almost exploded. It’s amazing how God can make the most random, seemingly-impossible things happen, but to come across Scott again in a major city like D.C. just shows that God always has things lined up long before we can possibly imagine them.

Anyway, we had a good chat with Scott, but we needed to keep making progress if we were going to reach our goal for the day. So onward we pushed, thankful to finally have sidewalks again. We reached a good stopping point, and called Christiana and Caleb, our contacts in D.C. They had gotten in touch with a friend with a truck, so Caleb, Matt, and Suzette, drove out to grab us about 10 miles away from their home and bring us to Caleb and Christiana’s apartment. Once we arrived, we took a deep breath, thankful to have a safe, warm place to stay for the night. Christiana was working late, but she was kind enough to set us up with a delicious meal when we arrived at the apartment, and Lindsie and I did not hesitate to dive into dinner. We enjoyed chatting with Caleb and sipping on some hot apple cider while we prepared for bed. Toward the end of the evening, Christiana arrived home, and we were excited to meet her too. But it was time for bed, and knowing we’d be in D.C. for at least one more night, we decided to get some sleep.

Mike, Lindsie, Matt, Shawn, and AndrewThe next morning, Lindsie and I went out to explore the D.C. area. Although walking all around a major city isn’t exactly the best choice for a “rest day,” we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity no matter what. After getting into the city, we made our way toward Capitol Hill. Christiana works for U.S. Congresswoman Kristi Noem (SD), so she was kind enough to set us up with a tour of the Capitol building. An even bigger surprise came for me (Mike) when two people stepped out of Kristi’s office and I recognized one of them as Matt, a fellow Augustana College alum who was at Augie while I was at Augie. After reintroducing ourselves, Matt and his coworker, Shawn, jumped in on our Capitol tour with us, led by Andrew, one of Congresswoman Noem’s interns. I was just pumped because one of my hopes was to randomly come across someone I knew before starting our walk, and Matt helped me check that one off the list!

Lindsie, Christiana, Mike, Caleb, Stephanie, and JasonThe Capitol building tour was really cool and it was fun to get such a unique perspective on the history of our nation’s capital. Once the tour was done, we said goodbye to our South Dakota friends and continued exploring D.C. Lindsie wanted to take photos of just about everything she saw, so we walked all over and gathered quite a collection of pictures as we went. By the end of the day, we were just about wiped out, so we were ready to eat dinner. Thankfully, Christiana and Caleb and their friends Jason and Stephanie were meeting us for dinner at a nearby pizza place. After a great night of tasty food and fun conversation, we made our way back to Caleb and Christiana’s. Sleepiness overtook us quickly, and we all called it a night. And because we weren’t able to get a truck for the next morning, Caleb and Christiana were kind enough to invite us to stay an extra night at their place. We accepted, both because we didn’t know how we’d get back out to resume our walk the next morning, and also because we wanted to see a few more things in D.C. before we moved on.

Aaron and LindsieThe next morning, I woke up feeling pretty terrible for some reason. It definitely made us thankful that we had a place to stay again for the night. And even though I wasn’t feeling great, I didn’t want to send Lindsie out by herself all day in D.C., so we went and explored more of the sights. After a full day of walking and photos, we got to enjoy a pleasant surprise. Lindsie’s good friend Aaron, a fellow South Dakota State Jackrabbit, lives in D.C. now. So we met up with him for lunch, and we (specifically, I) tried to muster up the energy to make it a fun meal. It was awesome catching up with Aaron, but he eventually had to get back to work and we still had more photos to take. And by the end of the day, we were pretty much wiped out.

Although we had plans to grab dinner with the same group we ate with the night before, we unfortunately had to pass. I don’t understand why, but I felt like my body was ready to shut down on me, so we spent our evening resting and preparing to head out the next morning. Also, we had an opportunity to connect with my friend Bryce, but I honestly feared I might throw up on him if he came over, so we had to pass on that chance. I’ll probably regret it forever though. Sorry Bryce.

A beautiful shot from Linds of the Capitol buildingThankfully, after a night of really, really good rest, I felt much better the next morning. And also thankfully, Caleb and Christiana had gotten ahold of another truck, so we were able to drive out to where we had left off three days earlier and pick back up. After saying a sad goodbye and sharing in a goodbye prayer, we set back off toward the beaches of Delaware. But first, we had to go through the rest of D.C. and Maryland.

We walked the rest of the day through Washington, D.C., and we happened to meet some wonderful people as we traveled. One couple we met had Yorkies themselves, and Lindsie noticed a patch on the gentleman, Leonard’s, vest that mentioned being one of the laboring few for Jesus Christ. Lindsie mentioned that she liked the patch, and we realized we were in the company of some very strong Christians. Their kindness and spirit was a boost to our energy level, and we enjoyed praying with them and taking a photo before we moved on.

The best president ever...We were excited to make our way into Maryland as the evening crept toward us. Unfortunately, after contacting every church in the area where we planned to stop, we still didn’t actually have a place to stay that night. And from what we’d heard from people in D.C., where we planned to stop for the night wasn’t exactly an area anyone would recommend camping outdoors, regardless of the weather. So as we desperately tried to line something up, God showed us once again that he still wanted to take care of us.

The under-repair Washington Monumuent

We posted on Facebook that we were struggling to find a place to stay in our general vicinity, and one of my mom’s closest friends, Amy, mentioned that her sister, Emily, lived near where we hoped to stop for the night. Amy, who lives down in Houston, Texas, called her sister, Emily, who lives in Maryland, and asked her to help us out for the night. Much to our relief, Emily said she’d be happy to help. After a pretty miserable day of trying to walk on the sometimes-shoulderless highway, night finally came on in all of its pitch blackness. But right on time, Emily came to rescue us in her minivan, and we headed back to her house for dinner and a fun night of conversation.

When we got to Emily’s, we met her husband, Mike, and their two sons, John and Patrick. They were delightful, and we had a great time chatting with them. John and Patrick were both very inquisitive, and we enjoyed answering their questions and asking them a few of our own. We then ate a delicious dinner, and before we knew it, it was time for bed again. We said goodnight, excited to get up the next morning and continue on our journey. Another reason we were excited was because John was making us his homemade tea to warm us up and prepare us for our walk the next morning. Appropriately-named John’s Tea, it was a special mix of some tasty ingredients (but we don’t want to reveal the secret recipe), so whenever John goes into the tea-making business, you can purchase John’s Tea with a hearty recommendation from the Storming Jericho crew.

American pride at the Vietnam War MemorialEmily drove us out to where we’d left off and we said goodbye, continuing on our path down Highway 50. Or so we’d thought. Unfortunately, we made it about 3 miles before a state trooper pulled us over to let us know that the stretch of Highway 50 we were walking on is actually considered a “controlled access highway,” meaning pedestrians aren’t allowed on it, even in the shoulders. Obviously this was disappointing news, as we had planned to be on Highway 50 for 40-50 more miles. The officer told us we’d need to take a different route a few miles off of Highway 50, so we trudged back the way we’d came about 2 miles in order to get on the exit ramp that would take us to the new road we had to walk. Once we got there, we started walking again. But due to our detour, our route ended up having 4 extra, unplanned miles on it, which made us a little bit sad inside. On the flip side, we knew that was just Satan’s way of trying to get us down and make us quit, and we weren’t about to let him win that battle. So onward we pushed.

Patrick, Emily, Lindsie, Jaeda, John, and Mike

The only other problem is that we didn’t have a place to stay in the next town either. For some reason, we had no luck whatsoever with the churches in that general vicinity of Maryland, and we were starting to grow concerned. Thankfully, John and Amanda from back in Upperville, Virginia, used to live in the Annapolis, Maryland area (where we were heading), and they still had a few connections in the area. They got us in touch with their friend Charlie, and he and his wife, Stephanie, were more than happy to take us in for a night. And even better, their home was right by our route. So after overcoming the obstacles of route changes and added length, we finally made it to Charlie and Stephanie’s. Charlie is a big comic book guy, so he and I had plenty to talk about. But before we got too much into the comic book talk, we realized we needed to get some food. We went out to a fantastic restaurant nearby and got a chance to see some of Annapolis before and after dinner. Then it was bedtime, and we welcomed it with open arms. Or closed eyelids, to be more specific.

Stephanie, Charlie, and Mike

The next morning, we set off again. Only we did so without our carts. As a result of the law not allowing pedestrians on the bridge across the Chesapeake Bay, Linds and I had no other option but to get a ride across the bridge. And since Charlie and Stephanie have a truck, Charlie offered to just drive us and our carts over the bridge whenever we reached it. So we set out, walked all the way to the very edge of the Chesapeake Bay, and then rode over the bridge. Once we were out, we said thanks again to Charlie about 400 times for driving our carts across and then said goodbye. We walked to the edge of the shore on the side we had just reached (to walk as much as was physically possible for us), and then set out toward our next stop.

Dr. Rich, Mike, and Lindsie

That next stop was Queenstown, Maryland. And since we couldn’t happen to find a church willing to take us in in Queenstown either, we ended up staying at one of the hotels in the area. That ended up being ok though, as Lindsie and I were so tired after our busy day of walking that we wouldn’t have been much fun for anyone we might have met at church anyway.

Denton, Maryland, was the next stop on our route. We finally had a church that wanted to take us in, and we were thankful when Dr. Rich from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church welcomed us in. We had a great time chatting with Dr. Rich, and then we went out to eat at a delicious Italian restaurant where the owner, Sal, took fantastic care of us. Sal couldn’t believe that we had walked all the way to his restaurant from San Francisco, California. Adding to his kindness, Sal made us huge cold cut sandwiches to eat for lunch during our walk the next day, and we didn’t object in the slightest. After filling ourselves on Italian food and wonderful conversation, it was time to head back for bed. We only had two more stops on our route after Denton, and then we would reach the end of our journey.

Lindsie, Mike, and Sal

The next morning we set out for Greenwood, Delaware. Pastor Doug from Greenwood United Methodist Church said we were welcome to stay at his church, and we excitedly took him up on the offer. Even though it was a chilly day, we made great time toward Greenwood (mostly because we wanted to get out of the cold), and Pastor Doug was happy to let us in when we arrived. Pretty soon after our arrival, the youth group began pouring in for the Wednesday night youth service. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by dozens of active and excited kids ranging from elementary school age to high school age. Along with a tasty dinner provided by the church, Linds and I had an opportunity to share our story with some of the youth group kids, and we really enjoyed answering their questions and hearing their thoughts on what we were doing.

The end is in sight!

After things settled down, Linds and I went to bed. It was getting harder and harder to fall asleep knowing how close we were to the end, but walking 18 miles a day still manages to wear you out, no matter how excited you might be. We set out the next morning for Milton, Delaware, the last place we’d need to spend the night. The Associate Pastor at Grace Church in Milton, Pastor David, said we could stay in the sunroom of the parsonage, which was currently being renovated. We thought that sounded just about perfect, and we started booking our way there. Along our way to Milton, we ran into a woman named Serinda who manages the American Discovery Trail in Delaware. Serinda was excited to meet us, as she tries to meet any on-foot travelers coming through her area. We didn’t have much time to chat when we met her at the gas station on our way to Milton, but we invited her to come hang out when we reached Grace Church, and she accepted our offer.

The Greenwood United Methodist crew

A little while after we reached the church and got set up, Serinda arrived, excited to talk with us and hear some stories. We were equally excited to hear some of hers. As the evening went on, we had another thing to be excited about—our parents were almost to Delaware! Lindsie’s mom and dad, Tim and Lyn, were driving out with my mom, Paula, to come pick us up on the beach the following day. And the timing was going to work out that they’d actually be able to pick us up in Milton that night and take us to the hotel so we could spend the night with them. So when they pulled up around 8:00 that night, we said some emotional hellos and loaded up most of our gear into the van. We left one cart with a few things still in it in the parsonage so we could get it in the morning and keep on walking from there.

Jaeda, Mike, and Pastor David

We’d be lying if we said it was easy to fall asleep that night. Our goal…the beach of the Atlantic ocean, was one more day’s walk away from us. It was so close we could taste it. But eventually we got some sleep, and the next morning brought the same jitters of anticipation. We got dropped off with our stuff and set out down the road. We only had 16 miles to go, and we couldn’t wait.

We made great time, thanks to some nice shoulders in Delaware and some nice sidewalks as we got closer to Dewey Beach. Along the way, we ran into two very familiar faces—Lindsie’s mom’s cousin, Nancy, and her daughter, Deanna. You may not remember, but Nancy and Deanna had actually met up with us not once, but TWICE already on this journey (the first time was in Davis, CA, and the second time was in the desert of Nevada), and we were more than happy—though not exactly surprised—to see them again!

Lindsie, Serinda, and Mike

As we pushed on, the beach got closer and closer. Along the way, we got to connect with Ron from the local newspaper, the Cape Gazette. Ron was doing a story for the paper on our journey, which we’ll post a link to a little lower in the post. And then, before we knew it, we were only a few miles away. Both of our moms came to join us in our walk for the last mile and a half or so, and eventually the entire crew—me, Lindsie, Jaeda, Tim, Lyn, Paula, Nancy, and Deanna—were walking the final steps onto the beach. The moment had finally arrived.

Our family together on the beach...As we stepped into the water, we were both overcome with emotion. It took nearly 17 total months (11 and ½ of walking time, plus 5 months off for winter) and we pushed our bodies to walk around 3,600 miles on foot, but it was worth every step of the way to see how God provided for us and took care of us as we traveled. Words truly can’t describe how we felt as we hit that water and knew our journey—at least, this part of our journey—was finally over.

We’ll try to have another follow-up post soon that gives a little more detail on that last day, as well as our future plans from here on out, both personally and from a Storming Jericho perspective, but we wanted to finally get you all caught up now that our journey is officially “over.”

17 months later...

Thanks so much for reading, and, like I said, we’ll have another post up soon. We can’t say how thankful we are for everyone’s help as we traveled across this great country. We were blessed in every sense of the word. And like the title of this post suggests, even though we’ve hit the beach and our walk is over, the next journey of our lives is just beginning. And we can’ t wait.

Thanks again, and we’ll be back with more soon!

-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda

P.S. – To read Ron’s awesome story in the Cape Gazette, click here!

Through the Mountains and Beyond

The road ahead of us...We sort of left you hanging on our last post, just as we were preparing to climb our way up a couple of mountains into Aurora, West Virginia. Needless to say, pushing our way up two extremely steep mountain summits in one day was not exactly our idea of fun. But the only way to get to our destination was to climb, so that’s what we decided to do.

After a few miles feature hills of various size, we reached the base of our first hurdle (really tall hurdle, mind you), Laurel Mountain. After saying a prayer that God would provide us with the energy we needed to make it up the mountain, we set off. And even though we know how much God has provided for us on this journey, we were still slightly surprised at just how much energy He filled us with. Although it wasn’t easy, we made it all the way to the top of Laurel Mountain and said a prayer of thanks at the top.

Fact: 9% grades aren't fun for anyone, walker or driver...After making our way downhill and traveling a few more miles, we were at the base of our next climb, Cheat Mountain. And we weren’t exactly excited. It was already getting late, and we still had seven miles to reach our destination, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Aurora. We started laboring up the 9% grade, stopping for rest breaks pretty consistently, but before we knew it, time had caught up to us. It was getting dark and we still had five total miles to go, and at least three of them were uphill. Realizing we weren’t going to arrive before 8:00 p.m., we decided to make a call to our contacts in Aurora, Dave and Fran. We asked if they might be willing to take our carts up ahead for us so we could walk without the weight of the carts. Much to our joy and gratitude, they said they’d be happy to do that.

After Dave and Fran rescued us we still had five miles to walk, but we knew we’d now be cruising without our carts. Well…as fast as you can cruise walking up a 9% grade. Within a couple of hours, we had reached the top, walked along the ridge to Aurora, and arrived at the church around 6:45 p.m. We walked into the parsonage behind the church, where we’d be staying for the night, and found a warm pellet stove blazing, an entire meal waiting for us along with an apple pie dessert and homemade cookies, and a large air mattress to sleep on for the night. We were almost overwhelmed with thankfulness.

The delightful St. Paul's Lutheran Church crew in Aurora, WVAfter enjoying our meal and warming up by the fire, we were ready to sleep. A 21-mile day that included two large mountains and a few other small hills would be enough to wipe just about anybody out, and we were certainly done for the day. And thankfully, the folks at St. Paul’s offered to let us stay an extra day and night to recover from our exhaustion. We accepted the offer with gratitude.

The next morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast with Fran and Dave, attended a church service at St. Paul’s, and had a chance to meet several people from the congregation as well, including Darla, who had been our original contact at St. Paul’s several days before. One of the congregation members, Cindy, offered to let us use her wi-fi hotspot, which was a bonus blessing, as we had quite a few internet things to do. Thanks to a lot of much-needed rest, our little Storming Jericho trio had a lovely Sunday afternoon. Then, around 4:00 p.m., Fran and Dave picked us up to take us around the area to see the beautiful sights up in the mountains. As we looked out over tree-covered mountaintops and soaked in the leaves with all of their different colors, we were reminded of the amazing, awe-inspiring things God has created on this earth. It is truly incredible. After driving for about an hour and a half, we were all ready to grab some dinner. Dave and Fran took us to an awesome lodge and we packed our stomachs full of food. After that, it was time to head home again and get sleep. Even though we had climbed up and over two gigantic mountains, we still had plenty of walking left to do in the mountains themselves.

A sweet panorama of the West Virginia mountaintops...

The next day we made our way toward Mt. Storm, West Virginia. It was a nice walk. Even though there were some tough stretches, not having giant mountains to climb made it a little bit more comfortable. And thanks to the folks at the Methodist Church in Mt. Storm, we had a hotel to stay in when we arrived. We got to the hotel in pretty good time, got a good night of sleep, and were excited to keep on making progress toward Delaware.

Mike, Elaine, and Pastor DanOur next stop was New Creek, West Virginia, where Pastor Dan from the Rees Chapel United Methodist Church had offered to take care of us for the night. Although we thought we would be staying at the church that night, Pastor Dan informed us that they wanted to put us up at the nearby Keyser Inn, and we didn’t want to turn down that offer. After buying us some dinner and dropping us off at the hotel, Pastor Dan said goodnight and said he’d be back to pick us up and return us to the church in the morning. Needless to say, Linds, Jaeda, and I slept like rocks that night.

The Burlington Cafe crew...

Morning came too soon, but we were still motivated to keep making progress, so we said thanks to Pastor Dan and his wife, Elaine, and set off down the road toward Romney, West Virginia. Our trip to Romney was another long one—22.5 miles, to be exact. Thankfully, Burlington was along the way to Romney, and we stopped in to grab some lunch at the Burlington Café. After sharing a little bit about our journey while we ate some incredibly tasty burgers, the folks at the café paid for our lunch, and we were extra thankful for that. It’s not every day you get a fantastic, juicy hamburger on the house. On top of that, a friendly couple named Dave and Mary Kay stopped to talk to us for a minute, and they gave us some freshly-made apple butter to take with us on the final stretch of our journey. And if you didn’t know, apple butter is delicious.

Cindy, Darla, Jaeda, Mike, and LindsieAnyway, after eating our meal and after pushing all day long, we were excited to run into Cindy and Darla from Aurora, who were kind enough to drop off Gatorades and candy bars for us on their way home from meetings farther east. It was a blessing to see them, and the Gatorades made it even better, because a 22.5 mile day makes you pretty thirsty. After that, we finally pulled into the church in Romney. Unfortunately, the pastor at Romney First United Methodist was unavailable, but Reverend Richard Hogg from Burlington had connected us with another church member named Sandy. Sandy and her husband, Paul, wanted to host us for the night, and we didn’t turn that down. So Sandy met us at the church, and one of the church elders, Ted, also happened to be waiting for us. Along with giving us some chocolate from a bunch of different countries, Ted showed us around the church a little bit, pointing out the history—mainly the gorgeous stained-glass window that was designed by a gentleman who had done work painting in the Sistine Chapel during his career—and then we said a prayer together and the Storming Jericho crew made its way to Sandy’s.

A ridiculously detailed (and beautiful) stained glass window from the Romney United Methodist ChurchOnce we were there, we had a fantastic meal with Sandy and her husband, Paul. We had a great conversation, and closed out the evening singing a bunch of classic Christian songs while Paul rocked out on his guitar. It was a unique and memorable evening, for sure.

The next day brought a cold front and rain, and an unfortunate pattern we’ve discovered with cold fronts and rain is that they tend to give Lindsie migraines. So when Lindsie woke up with her head throbbing and the rain falling outside, we knew we might be in trouble. Thankfully, Sandy and Paul are wonderful people, and they said it would be ok for us if we took a rest day at their house. Obviously, this was great news. Linds and I spent most of the day checking things off of our overdue-to-do list, and Lindsie also squeezed in a little bit of a nap as well. Then it was time for another tasty dinner, and before we knew it, it was time for bed again.

Mike, Ted, and Lindsie

Traveling the next morning was going to be rough. And that was putting it mildly. Even though we were out of the “mountains,” we had a full day of walking with four major hills we had to go up and over. But, as usual, God came through in the clutch by blessing us with Ted. Using his truck, Ted drove us and our carts ahead of us to Capon Bridge, West Virginia, so we wouldn’t have to push both carts up and over those hills we weren’t looking forward to. After dropping off one of our carts with Pastor Chris (from Capon Bridge First United Methodist Church) and emptying out most of the other one, Ted brought us back to Romney and we said a goodbye prayer and picked up where we had left off walking a few days before.

Sandy, Paul, Mike, and LindsieThe hills were much more manageable with one light cart, and we made incredible time to Capon Bridge. And even though we were definitely worn out when we arrived, we walked in to a delicious-smelling kitchen and some very comfortable chairs—as far as we’re concerned, that’s a fantastic combination. We had a great conversation with Pastor Chris, and after eating all kinds of good food and desserts, we took showers and called it a night. We had walked 22 miles with four hills, after all.

Pastor Chris and Mike

The next morning, Pastor Chris took up where Ted had left off, and offered to drive one of our carts to us a few miles down the road. The first 7 or 8 miles of our day would be spent walking with almost no shoulder, so he figured we could walk with one cart, and he’d drop off the second once we had a shoulder again. It was a perfect plan, and we were thankful he thought of it. We made great progress down the road, and once he dropped off the other cart and we said goodbye, we just kept on moving. That day we crossed from West Virginia into Virginia, and our first stop in Virginia was Winchester.

We had originally made plans with one church in town, but because of some events they had going on, the pastor referred us to a different church, Montague Avenue United Methodist Church. There, Pastor Andy and his wife, Regina, were waiting to welcome us inside. We should mention that Winchester is a very cool city, particularly the parts we walked through on our way to the church. Anyway, Pastor Andy and Regina wanted to take us out to eat, and we were ready to dive in when we heard the magic words—Golden Corral. When you’ve walked 20+ miles in a day, an endless buffet of food just seems to set the mouth to watering.

Lindsie, Regina, and Pastor Andy

We loaded up on food, then headed back to their house for a quick shower. The whole night was extremely fun, but we were certainly wiped out by the end of it. We headed back to the church, set up for the night, and slept like rocks. Rocks that were very full of food.

The next morning we set out again, this time heading toward Upperville, Virginia, where Pastor John, one of the pastors at the ridiculously beautiful Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville, was going to put us up for the night. The day was a little chilly and the sky got dark even earlier than usual thanks to the clouds, but we still made it in decent time and were thankful to arrive at our destination. As I mentioned before, the church was beautiful. The reason? The church was built to resemble a 12th century church complex, like something straight out of Robin Hood. So that was awesome. Also awesome was the well heated living area we were able to use for the night.

The Trinity Episcopal Church crew in Upperville

That night, John and his wife, Amanda, took us out to eat at a nearby restaurant, and we were joined by Ed and Margaret, and their two sons, Charles and Robbie. The food was delicious, and the conversation was even better. But after a very fun evening, Linds and I were ready for bed. We said goodnight, and woke up the next morning ready to go. Sort of. We thought we were ready to go. But after only seven miles, we knew the day was going to be more difficult than we were ready for. We called John and asked if his church might be willing to put up with us for one more night. Thankfully they were, and he was kind enough to come pick us up in the church van to bring us back. And after a full day of uneventful rest and a full night of sleep, John’s kindness continued the next morning when he dropped us back off where he’d picked us up the day before. We continued on, much better rested and much more prepared to tackle the open road.

Zita and MikeOur next stop on the journey was South Riding, Virginia. We were blessed to have a contact there, Pastor Becky from Christ Church, who was flexible enough to deal with our constant changes in schedule. Unfortunately, she got sick the day before we arrived in South Riding, so we were never able to meet her in person. But she was still willing to let us spend the night in the church’s townhouse, which had a shower, a kitchen, a washer and dryer, a bed, and anything else we really could have hoped for as far as comforts go on a cross-country journey. In order to get there, we left our stuff at the church and got a ride to the townhouse from Zita, one of the congregation members who was nice enough to help us. After she showed us around, Zita headed home. In order to make us as comfortable as possible, Pastor Becky ordered a pizza for us for dinner. So we were full, clean, warm, and beyond content, which was a huge blessing.

More of nature's beauty...The next morning, it was time for some chaos—heading into Washington, D.C. And even though we’re much, much farther along in our journey than this post gets to, we need to get something posted sooner than later. We’re almost finished with the walk overall to be honest, but you’ll have to endure the suspense until we can get the next post up. Hopefully the next post is ready soon!

Thanks again for the continued prayers and support. These last few weeks have been as challenging as any, and it’s the prayers and words of encouragement that have helped get us through. We are appreciative beyond explanation. God bless!

-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda

Checking In From Our Nation’s Capital

Hey everyone! Just wanted to apologize for the delay in getting the blog updated. The last week or so has been hectic and crazy (in a good way), so we haven’t had a TON of free time to get the a new update posted.

That being said, here’s a photo of the beautiful sky we saw as we made our way toward Washington, D.C. last night. Just wanted to give you a quick update that we are ok, share some of God’s incredible artistry skills, and let you know that a more detailed blog post should be coming soon. Thanks for your patience!

God has some pretty solid skill with a paintbrush...

-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda

Welcome to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia

Clear and beautiful skies ahead of us!We’re finally back! Sorry for the delay. Some computer issues (which you’ll read about later) set us back a few days on the blog updates. Anyway, our last post left off with the Storming Jericho crew heading east along Highway 50 after leaving the incredible friends we’d made at Calvary Assembly of God Church in McArthur, Ohio. Thankfully, as you might have guessed, the blessings haven’t slowed down since leaving McArthur.

Mike and JimOur first stop after McArthur was Albany, Ohio. Unfortunately, we hadn’t been able to get ahold of any churches in Albany, Ohio, so Linds and I were sort of getting desperate. At least, we had been until Tammy from Calvary Assembly made some phone calls and got us connected with Pastor Jim from Living Water Worship Center, just a little west of Albany. Jim was great, and even though he wasn’t free the night we were getting there, he left the church open for us and told us to make ourselves at home. And on top of that, Tammy stopped by to drop off her famous chicken and noodles along with some tasty mashed potatoes, so we had a warm, home-cooked meal waiting for us when we arrived. Talk about being blessed.

Linds and I had a great night of rest, and the next morning we had an opportunity to chat with Pastor Jim (awesome), to see Pastor Carl again when he came to drop off a package of ours that had been sent to McArthur (also awesome), and to speak with the church receptionist, Bonnie (also also awesome). By the time we left, we had been filled with the spirit so much that we felt like we could fly.

Bonnie and Lindsie

From Albany, we pushed our way on toward the South Canaan Baptist Church near Guysville, Ohio. Lindsie and I were sort of desperately hoping for the church to give us a call back, because it was basically the only stopping point between Albany and Little Hocking, which is just about a 40 mile stretch. So when we got a thumbs up from Pastor Monty and his wife, Missy, we were overjoyed. We reached Guysville that evening and were welcomed by their huge family of 7 (and their oldest son’s wife to go along with the rest of the group). Dinner was ready when we pulled in, and we were all ready to eat. We got to know Monty and Missy, as well as their kids Ryan (and his wife, Brianna), Cory, Noah, Chloe, and Ethan. It was awesome getting to talk with them, hear their stories, and generally just soak in the idea of raising FIVE kids (which is a tiny bit terrifying to me).

Quite a family. And Lindsie.

Unfortunately, the next morning meant we needed to go, and extra unfortunately, it was going to be a very rainy day. We left from their house around 8:30, and by 9:30 it was raining. And it never stopped raining. So by the time we pulled up to the parsonage next to the Little Hocking Church of God in Little Hocking, Ohio, we were ready to be done walking for the day. Even though we have waterproof jackets, Linds and I felt cold and wet all over. But we were blessed to have a fantastic place to sleep thanks to Pastor Josh and his wife Deborah. And thanks to some of the wonderful members of the Little Hocking Church of God, we had a meal waiting for us when we arrived. We inhaled the food and enjoyed getting to know Josh, Deborah, and their kids, JT and Joseph. Then, after some tasty cake for dessert, it was time for sleep.

Lindsie with Joseph, Pastor Josh, JT, and Debbie

The next morning we were all set to go. Sort of. But when we looked out the window and saw nothing but pouring rain, then checked the forecast and saw that rain would be pouring down all day, we decided to beg Pastor Josh to let us stay an extra night in their basement, and he and Deborah were kind enough to say yes. And as an added bit of excitement, we were going to be able to attend the Thursday night church service the church holds.

As we rested throughout the day, Lindsie began to suffer from the oncoming of a migraine. And try as we did to fight it off, the migraine still reared its ugly head. As a result, Lindsie wasn’t able to attend the Thursday night service, but I did and it rocked the house. The congregation rocked out with some great music, and then Pastor Josh kept the Holy Spirit moving with a powerful message. All in all, it made for a great night, capped off with some tasty pizza for dinner. It really doesn’t get much better than that, right?

West Virginia!The next day was much, much less rainy and miserable, so Lindsie and I actually set out toward our next stop—Murphytown United Methodist Church in Murphytown, West Virginia. That’s right, we left Ohio and made our way into West Virginia. And thanks to Pastor Mary at the church, we had a place to stay exactly where we needed one, which was a HUGE blessing. It was similar to the Guysville situation, where we really didn’t have many options, and Pastor Mary came through in the clutch.

When we got to the church, which was a lovely little church, we walked in to find dinner already waiting for us. We had a rotisserie chicken and salad in the fridge, and Pastor Mary had dropped off all kinds of stuff for us to eat for breakfast the next morning. We basically had a feast on our hands, and it didn’t take us long to dive in.

Later that night, Lindsie fell asleep early and Pastor Mary stopped by to visit us. She and I chatted for a few delightful minutes, and then she was off again and it was time for me to go to bed as well. The next morning was the start of a BIG day for us—23.5 miles to Ellenboro, West Virginia. And that’s 23.5 miles of walking in the foothills of the Appalachians. So…yeah…it was going to be a tough day.

Our Ellenboro rescuers!We got moving pretty early the next morning and started cranking away toward Ellenboro. Although we hadn’t had any success initially when it came to finding a church to stay at in Ellenboro, God had a different plan. After we emailed the Ellenboro Fire Department about possibly staying there, the Fire Department receptionist, Susie, emailed back and said she would be figuring something out for us. We weren’t exactly sure what was going to happen, but we were thankful somebody was trying to help us.

After a pretty brutal day of walking that included some big hills, very cloudy skies, and plenty of cold and miserable rain, we finally limped our way into Ellenboro, looking about as pathetic as two cross-country walkers can look. And Susie met us right in town with a plan to lift our spirits. We’d be staying at the Pennsboro United Methodist Church just a few miles down the road, and then Susie would bring us back to our carts in the morning so we could take off from Ellenboro again. After dropping off our carts at her son, Jay’s, house, we had a quick interview with Julia from the local newspaper. We had fun chatting with her and answering her questions, and then it was off to dinner.

Dinner was also delicious. Lindsie and I got to enjoy a piping hot meal with Susie and her father, Dave, Pastor Kelly from the church, and Susie’s sister, Carol Ann. We had a blast just chatting with everyone and stuffing our faces with warm, tasty food. Then it was time for bed. After our day of wet, cold walking, our warm sleeping bags were calling our names.

Mike, Sharon, and PaulAs much as we wanted to stay for church that morning, we had to roll out down the road. We had lost a day when we rested in Little Hocking, which meant we had to make it up by skipping our usual Sunday rest day. We chatted with some people at the church that morning, then said goodbye and made our way toward West Union. Paul and Sharon, the directors of the American Discovery Trail in West Virginia, had been following our journey almost from the beginning, and they were excited to have us come to their house for a night.

After a much-less-miserable-than-the-day-before day of walking, we got to West Union and were excited to see Paul waiting for us in his truck. He and Sharon lived a few miles off of 50, so after a short ride to their house, we pulled in to the driveway and started unloading. There was cold lemonade waiting for us, and the delicious meal Sharon had cooked was filling up the entire house with a very appealing aroma. After we took showers, Linds and I settled in with Paul and Sharon to devour our meal. After dinner and some pleasant conversation, we got ready to head toward Salem, West Virginia. Thankfully, Paul and Sharon had offered to pick us up near Salem and bring us back to their house for a second night, which meant we only had to push one mostly empty cart through the foothills instead of two completely full carts. We accepted the offer (with gratitude).

A sweet sign just outside of Salem...After a chilly day of walking toward Salem, we were picked up again for another wonderful evening with Paul and Sharon. They took us out to eat with Sharon’s sister, Barb, and her husband, Mike, and then it was back to Paul and Sharon’s for dessert and another great night of sleep. While we were sad to say goodbye to them, we were glad to be making progress down the road. We knew winter was getting closer, and that was part of our burning desire to keep things moving.

The next day featured a slight change of plans and schedule. Originally we were going to spend a night in Clarksburg, West Virginia, at our friend Gary Mitchell’s church. Gary is a walker himself, and he’s been following our journey for several months. We were pumped about finally meeting him, but we had a slight problem—Gary’s church is about 3-4 miles off of Highway 50. Which would have made our next day of walking to Grafton, West Virginia, a 25-mile or so day. And most of the time, that’s too many miles for us. Especially when we are making our way into the mountains.

Gary's mom, Gary, and MikeAs a result, we told Gary we were going to try to find a place to stay in Bridgeport, which is a few miles past Clarksburg and actually happens to be on Highway 50. That would make our walk to Grafton only about 18 miles, which was a much more appealing distance. We called a couple of churches, and, thankfully, Pastor Ryan from the Bridgeport Church of Christ said we could stay at their church. We were calling on pretty short notice, so we were thankful he was willing to open his doors to us. So after Paul dropped us back off where we’d left off the day before, we set off for Bridgeport.

The day went really well, even if the air was getting a little chilly. We had one high-traffic stretch that was a little stressful, but other than that it was smooth sailing. We pulled up to the church around 4:30 or so, and we found Raymond, one of the church elders, waiting for us to let us in and show us around. We also found Gary waiting for us. He had offered to take us to dinner since we hadn’t gotten to connect in Clarksburg, and we were thankful for both of them. After showing us around, Raymond headed out and we went with Gary to grab dinner at Bob Evans. His original plan was Outback, but we’d never tried Bob Evans and it was pretty close, so we gave it a shot. And it was pretty tasty, if we do say so ourselves.

We enjoyed a great night of conversation with Gary and got a chance to meet his lovely mother as well. Then we headed back to the church. We got a few things done and then started to prepare for bed. Around 9:30 that night, Pastor Ryan arrived at the church to say hello. He had been out of town when we arrived earlier, and we were thankful to get to chat with him. We ended up talking for about two hours, which was great. The time just flew by.

Jaeda, Lindsie, Megan, Millie Cate, Carson, Ranger, and RyanWe went to sleep, fully expecting to be up and walking the next morning. But when we woke up, it was raining, and it looked like there was absolutely no chance the rain would stop. We contemplated staying an extra day, and our contemplations were confirmed when, a few minutes later, Mike accidentally dropped his laptop and broke the screen (talk about a bummer). At that point, with the rain, the computer repair needs, a few shopping needs, and the general dreariness of the day, we just decided to take an extra rest day in Bridgeport. And we were very glad we did. Because it rained literally ALL day long.

After running our errands thanks to Ryan’s hospitality, we made our way out to his house to meet his wife, Megan, and their kids, Carson and Millie Cate. We had a wonderful lunch with them, got ourselves some showers, and got to know their family better. Then we had a few more hours to get things done back at the church. Following that, we had dinner plans and a Wednesday night church service we would get to attend. We were excited, both for dinner and for fellowship.

The night was great, and then we went back to spend an evening at Ryan and Megan’s. We enjoyed a tasty dessert at their house, then got some much-needed sleep. It was a busy day, after all. The next morning we had a 16-mile day to Grafton from Bridgeport, and we were VERY thankful we made it a shorter day. Why? Because we got snowed on. A lot.

Lindsie and the newfound snow...We started walking in what appeared to be pretty sunny weather. But as the day went on, the clouds continued to creep out. Before we knew it, the sky was gray, and a few minutes later, the snow started to fall. At first we weren’t considered. It was a light snow, and it melted pretty quickly. We were getting chilly, but we have warm gear with us, so it wasn’t too bad. But a few hours later, it started coming down both more rapidly and more stickily. Pretty soon, we had a good inch of snow on our carts, and our coats and shoes were wet and cold. It wasn’t exactly a “fun” day of walking. After a couple more hours, we pulled up to the Fetterman United Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Pastor Eddie happens to be the father of Pastor Kelly (from Pennsboro United Methodist), so we already had that connection and were excited to reach his oasis of a church. The heater was running and hot cocoa awaited us inside. Saying we were thankful for Pastor Eddie and his wife, Sue, would be an understatement.

Sue, Pastor Eddie, Lindsie, and MikeThe next morning was much, much brighter and cheerier than the day before had been. We were able to wake up, get packed, and start moving bright and early for Fellowsville, which was sort of a middle of nowhere place. Thankfully, the Assembly of God church there was willing to put us up for a night, so we said a prayer of thanks that God provided us a place to stay in the middle of nowhere and we got moving. Although it was definitely getting cold, the sun was shining and we felt good. But as the altitude climbed, the temperature dropped. On top of that, the clouds came out and started to cover up the sun. Just when we were starting to get uncomfortably cold, we more or less stumbled right into the church. Pastor Jason welcomed us, and even though there was a wedding rehearsal that night and a wedding ceremony the next day, he was kind enough to let us stay at the church anyway, which was a major blessing. Mostly because we wouldn’t have had anywhere else to go if we couldn’t stay there.

Pastor Jason and MikeAfter a great night of sleep at the church, we set out for a day Lindsie had been dreading—the final MAJOR mountain climbs of our journey. For the past several weeks, we’d been getting closer and closer to a climb up into the Appalachians, and the two mountains left in our way, Laurel Mountain and Cheat Mountain, were finally before us. On top of the fact that we had two steep (as in, mostly 9% grade steep), several hundred foot climbs ahead of us, we also had a 21-mile day of walking to go with it. Needless to say, it was going to be a tough one.

And on that cliffhanger of a note, we’re going to end this post. The good news is that there is still plenty of awesome stuff to share, so be ready for the next post soon. It definitely won’t take as long now that my computer screen has been replaced and I’m back in action behind the keyboard.

Fall has fallen!Thanks for reading and extra thanks for the continued encouragement and prayers. We only have about 300 total miles to go before we’re done with this journey, so the end is very much in sight. We are looking forward to sharing more as we finish this adventure.

Be blessed, and we’ll be back with another update before you know it.

-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda