Staying Blessed Across Ohio

The road ahead of us gets more beautiful by the day...After crossing into Ohio in our last post, we’re continuing to make progress through the Buckeye State. Every day brings us closer to the East Coast, and we are getting more and more excited with each step. Of course, there are still plenty of wonderful people to meet and incredible things to experience as we go.

As we mentioned before, we were just getting ready to leave our old friends Christina and Brian in Cincinnati in order to make our way toward Milford, Ohio. Thanks to a friend our fellow cross-country walkers Josh and Kerri had met during their walk, we had a place to stay when we reached the Milford area. Eric and Tammy and their daughters Abigail and Amber had hosted Josh and Kerri last year, and they were pumped to have us over to their house as well. Even they lived closer to nearby Owensville, they were more than happy to come pick us up in Milford when we got there.

Mike and Linsdie with Tammy and Eric's familyAfter a good day of walking out of Cincinnati, we hit Milford in the early evening. Tammy was eager to pick us up and get us a heaping plate of Cincinnati-style chili, which Lindsie and I both devoured immediately. Then it was back to their house—which was actually in Owensville, about 10 miles ahead of us on our route—for the night. But not before a few more cart repairs.

If you’ve been reading the blog the past few weeks, you’ll know that our carts are struggling to stay together at this point. They’re on their last legs, to say the least (I’m starting to feel like they are going to fall apart—like the car at the end of Blues Brothers—when we finally do stop walking), and Lindsie’s cart further proved that fact when part of its frame snapped on our way to Eric and Tammy’s. Lindsie was at least able to limp it all the way to our stopping point for the day where Tammy had picked us up. We were then blessed beyond belief to discover that God had put yet ANOTHER welding-capable, machine-fixing mechanic in our path. After taking an initial look at things, Eric grabbed Lindsie’s cart and said he’d be back in a little while.

Laurel, Fran and Mike

We went inside, got showered, and got ready for a fun night of conversation before we would head out the next morning. After showers were done, Eric came back and showed us a flawless welding job that made the frame look (and feel) as good as new. We were thankful. And tired. After some tasty dessert, we said goodnight and got ready for the next day.

But when the next day came, we weren’t quite ready. We just had a few more things to get figured out than we had realized, and Tammy and Eric were kind enough to let us stay another day and night at their house. After getting many things checked off of our to-do list, we had a fantastic dinner with the family and enjoyed a great night of conversation. After that, the plan truly was to get up and go the next morning.

And we did. Sort of. Unfortunately, it was an extremely rainy day. So after Tammy dropped us back off to start walking, we only made it about 10 miles. And, in a funny twist of fate, we just ended up walking to Tammy and Eric’s house, which is right along Highway 50. And when we got there, dripping wet and struggling with more cart issues, they welcomed us in to dry off, warm up, and get our carts re-re-re-repaired. That night we were able to go to an evening church service with them, as well as enjoy another tasty dinner and dessert. Once again, we were happy.

Mike, Susan, and Lindsie

The next morning, we finally left Eric and Tammy’s house for good. Thanks to our friends Mark and Nancy from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, we had a place to stay in Fayetteville, Ohio. Nancy’s sister, Laurel, lives in Fayetteville with her husband, Fran. After a few days of delays with Tammy and Eric, Laurel and Fran were ready for us to get there, and we ended up having a great night. Tasty food and good conversation made for a fun evening, and we were thankful to Laurel and Fran for opening up their home to us on our journey.

The sunrise brought breakfast with it, and after eating some food in the morning, we said goodbye to Laurel and made our way toward Hillsboro First United Methodist Church in Hillsboro, Ohio. But before that, we still had to walk through Fayetteville. And while we were taking a rest near a strip mall in town, we met Susan, who demanded that we let her buy us a cheese coney at Skyline Chili. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse, and we were glad we didn’t refuse it. The coneys were delicious, and we enjoyed chatting with Susan and getting to pray for her. On top of that, we even had a chance to pray for our waitress, which was a double-blessing. After that, we moved on toward Hillsboro.

Rodney, Debbie and Lindsie

Debbie, the receptionist at Hillsboro First United Methodist, had figured out a place for us to stay inside the church, which was a wonderful blessing. On top of that, she brought her husband, Rodney, and their little one-year-old Yorkie to greet us. After making sure we were all squared away, we had a little time to shower, make some sandwiches, and settle in for the evening, which was perfect.

The next morning we set off for Bainbridge, Ohio, where Pastor Steve Alexander at the Bainbridge Church of Christ was welcoming us with open arms. After a full day of walking, we pulled up to the church and were pleasantly surprised to find out that a meal had been left for us for dinner. And there was homemade fudge to go along with it! We talked with Pastor Steve for awhile, and then it was time for Bible study, which we appreciated and enjoyed. After a good time of fellowship, we got some much-needed rest in Bainbridge. The next morning, Pastor Steve took us to breakfast at the nearby Bainbridge Café, where we loaded up on energy for the day’s walk.

Lindsie and Pastor SteveFrom Bainbridge it was on to Chillicothe, Ohio. The First Christian Church of Chillicothe was kind enough to say “yes” to our request for a place to stay. Not only that, but they went above and beyond, offering to put us up in the house of a couple from their church. After a full day of walking, and a reintroduction to the hills we hadn’t seen for a few hundred miles, Glen met us to take us to his house. He and his wife, Carolyn, were the willing volunteers who offered to host us, and they made us feel right at home. With delicious food, a comfortable bed, and a great night of conversation, we didn’t have much more we could ask for. They also had some friends over to join us, including Pastor Alan from the church, as well as the church receptionist, Regina and her husband, Brooks. It was an awesome night all around.

Our next stop was going to be Londonderry, Ohio, but we hadn’t found a church in Londonderry take us in or even call us back at all. As a result, Glen and Carolyn offered to just drive out and pick us up after we walked to Londonderry, returning us to their house for the night. After the great night of sleep we’d gotten the night before and the delicious meal the two of them had prepared, we jumped on the opportunity to stay at their house again. So we walked to Londonderry in beautiful, sunny weather and waited for Glen and Carolyn to come back and snag us after our day of walking. Chillicothe has a ton of history (and was Ohio’s first AND third state capital), so they drove us around to tour the town before we headed home.

Glen, Brooks, Carolyn, Regina, Pastor Alan, Lindsie, and Jaeda

That night, they invited their neighbor over to have dinner and meet us. Their neighbor, Peggy, is 92 years old, and just so happens to have grown up in Watertown, South Dakota, where Lindsie is from. She and Lindsie exchanged stories and memories and had fun sharing the connection only two people from Watertown, South Dakota, can share.

The next day, Glen and Carolyn made another tasty breakfast and dropped us off in Londonderry, as we all said sad goodbyes. As much fun as it was getting to know them, we still had progress to make. So onward we pushed, to McArthur, Ohio. Carl, the pastor at Calvary Assembly of God Church in McArthur, had invited us to stay with them (with absolutely no hesitation, I might add), and we were excited to be there. Both because we love meeting new people and because we were planning to make Sunday a rest day, and rest days are a welcome blessing on a cross-country walk.

Peggy and LindsieWe got to the church on Saturday afternoon, and Pastor Carl let us into the auxiliary building where we’d be staying. With a kitchen, bathrooms, and plenty of space for sleeping, we couldn’t have been more thankful. We chatted with Pastor Carl for awhile, got a few things done, and then got ready for bed. The next morning was church, and we were delighted to be at a full, Sunday morning service. We hadn’t had a chance to catch one in a few weeks, and we were looking forward to it.

The music at Calvary Assembly of God is amazing. The worship team rocked the house, and not in the “It’s a big production and it’s all about us” way that a lot of churches tend to do it these days. This was just some soul-shaking, give-the-praise-to-God music that really got things going. And after the music, we had a chance to go speak with the youth group kids about our journey. It was fun to be sharing stories and answering the types of questions that only youth kids can come up with.

After church, we went out to eat with the high school youth group leader, Tom, his wife, Janelle, and their two kids, Abrianna and Dakyra. The meal was delicious, and we enjoyed a great conversation in the process. Then it was back to the church for a few hours of rest and a chance to get a few things checked off our to-do list.

Lindsie with the Calvary youth group

Around 6:00 p.m., it was time for the evening service, and it was by far one of the most moving experiences we’ve had on this entire journey. It started once again with some fantastic worship, and when worship was done we gathered to hear Pastor Carl preach—and preach he did. In a service that had people on their feet praising Jesus, had people praying prayers of gratitude and prayers of healing, and had tears flowing down just about everybody’s faces, a room full of people got to experience the Holy Spirit moving, and it was incredible.

The Calvary Assembly of God crew at Sunday night worship

After the service, we walked next door to the McDonald’s with other church members to enjoy a post-service dessert. We got to enjoy more fellowship, more stories, and more joy for the evening. Then, unfortunately, it was time for bed. Although we were sad to leave, we knew we had to keep moving down the road. Thankfully, Janelle dropped off biscuits and gravy for us to eat for breakfast, which was a great way to start the morning. And with that, we will wrap this post up. We are still heading east on Highway 50, and we’re less than 500 miles away from our goal, so we just keep getting closer and closer and God keeps providing for us every step of the way. We are beyond blessed, for sure.

We’ll have another update soon! Until then, here’s an encouraging verse from Hebrews. It’s Hebrews 12:12, and it says…

“So take a new grip with your tired hands, and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”

As our hands and knees continue to get tired, God gives us the strength to take a new grip. We still have plenty of people to share God’s goodness with, and that’s an energizing thought. We hope it energizes you too.

Be blessed!

-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda

Saying Hi to Ohio

More awesome nature beauty from LindsieWhen we left off in our last post, we were getting ready to hit Bedford, Indiana, after having a great time meeting people across Illinois and Indiana. Thanks to Reverend Beth Ann at First United Methodist Church in Bedford, we had a hot meal waiting for us when we got to town, and a warm bed to sleep in after we finished dinner.

One thing that made the walk to Bedford easier was the fact that our friend from Wheatland, Indiana, Pastor Brent, offered to drive our carts up ahead of us to Bedford so we wouldn’t have to push them through the hills and curves on the way. Any chance we have to lessen our load through the hills, we’ll take it.

Thanks to David and Tracey in Bedford, Pastor Brent had a place to leave the carts. All we had to do was show up and grab them on the way to Beth Ann’s house. After a full day of walking (and carrying Jaeda in her adorable puppy harness), we made it to David and Tracey’s in the early afternoon. We stopped to get our stuff, and they—and their delightful kids, Steven and Sarah—came out to greet us and pour out all kinds of blessings. Along with friendly conversation, they offered us Gatorades, food, and more. Our only regret was that we couldn’t spend more time chatting with them all. Reverend Beth Ann had a hot meal waiting, and we still had about 30 minutes of walking to go.

Mike, excited to be wearing Jaeda in the puppy harness

So we said goodbye, wishing we could have spent more time with David, Tracey, Steven, and Sarah, but also excited to eat the pot roast that awaited us. We pulled up to Beth Ann’s after a 22+ mile day, and couldn’t wait to dive into the tasty dinner she had prepared. After an introduction to her cats and a look at our room, we took very quick showers and got ready to devour our meal. Needless to say, we were more than satisfied. All kinds of side dishes, tender pot roast, and beyond-delicious desserts made by some of her congregation members left us almost too full to think. But we still managed to find the energy to have a fantastic conversation about faith, Ebenezer Stones, and our adventures on this journey.

The next morning, the plan was to make our way toward Brownstown, Indiana (a 24-mile journey), in order to stay at the Brownstown Christian Church. But as we’ve learned several times on this journey, sometimes God has plans that are different from ours. And when that is the case, God’s plans usually win over our own.

Lindsie, Mike, and Beth Ann

We set out that morning as planned, but Lindsie was feeling particularly stressed for some reason. We weren’t sure what the deal is, but we just didn’t feel “right,” as we left. After a few miles, Tracey (who had guarded our carts for us the day before) came by to drop off a load of fresh fruit, more drinks, and other snacks for our walk. As Tracey and Lindsie talked, the two both started talking about how they wish we’d all had a chance to spend more time together. That led to hugs and tears, and before I even knew what was happening, we were planning on getting picked up to stay at David and Tracey’s that night at the end of our walking day.

After putting in about 10 good miles of walking, Tracey came by to bring us back to their house. We hung out, waiting to surprise Steven and Sarah when they arrived home from school. Needless to say, they weren’t expecting to see the weird cross-country walkers sitting on the couch when they got home. We had fun chatting with the three of them (David was still at work), and then it was time for dinner. Because along with a nice place to stay, their family wanted to take us out to eat. Sarah’s vote was for Golden Corral, and Sarah’s vote seemed to be the deciding factor. We hit up Golden Corral, in all of its fully-stocked buffet majesty. When you’re walking across the country, there’s nothing wrong with some buffet action for dinner, to say the least.

Steven, Tracey, Sarah, David, Lindsie, and Jaeda

Besides the food, we were happy because David was able to come join us at Golden Corral for dinner. Even though our time with David wasn’t long, we enjoyed getting to chat with him for at least a few minutes. Once we were too stuffed to eat another bite, we left Golden Corral and made a stop at Walmart in order to pick up a few supplies. Then it was back home for a few episodes of Duck Dynasty and then a solid night of rest, which we took full advantage of.

The next morning, David dropped us back off where we’d ended the day before. We said a sad goodbye and then moved on toward Brownstown, where the church had found a place for us to stay that night AND was going to let us share a little bit about our journey with their Bible study group. But before we got to Brownstown, we received some exciting news: friends we had met ALL the way back in Utah last summer were driving through Indiana and wanted to meet up with us for dinner in Brownstown. Talk about crazy, right?

Lindsie, Susan, Chuck, and Mike

So with plenty of excitement, we walked to Brownstown, arriving at the church in the late afternoon. A few minutes after we got situated at the church, Chuck and Susan pulled up to take us to lunch. It was crazy seeing them again, as we had originally met them on a lengthy stretch of walking through Capitol Reef National Park where they were RV camping. To have them show up again in Indiana was an unexpected blessing, to say the least.

We ate a delicious meal at a Mexican restaurant in town, and just enjoyed the conversation and fellowship as we got to know both Chuck and Susan better. It was a treat, for sure. And the next time we are in Texas (where they live), we know where we’ll be staying. Unfortunately, we eventually had to say goodbye, but we’re certain we’ll come across each other’s path in the future.

We got to church just in time for Pastor Brian to introduce us to members and guests at the church during dinner. Then we went up to the sanctuary and had a chance to share some of our story with the congregation and answer a few questions as well. It was a blast getting to chat with people and hear the questions they had on their minds. Plus, I always enjoy watching Lindsie speak in front of people. She does a wonderful job. And she’s pretty too.

Much of the Brownstown Christian Church crewAfter our Q&A, we had a chance to do an interview with a reporter from the Seymour Tribune (Seymour being a nearby town). We haven’t had a chance to read the story yet, but you can read the preview by clicking here. Then when the interview was over, we made our way toward Pastor Brian’s Bible study room for a study on fasting, which was really insightful and informative.

That night, we stayed at Associate Minister Doug Pogue’s house. He and his wife, Shawn, were kind enough to give us their guest bedroom, which made for a fantastic night of comfortable sleep. The next morning, Pastor Brian, his family, Pastor Doug, and a few other people from the church met us for breakfast at a nearby restaurant. It made for a fantastic start to our morning, even if we were sad to be leaving.

Lydia, Pastor Scott, Terri, Lindsie, and MikeWe began walking toward Seymour, Indiana. Even though the weather was threatening us, we prayed to stay dry and God answered our prayer. We arrived at Peace Lutheran Church in Seymour, Indiana, in the early afternoon. It was a short day, which made the walk even more pleasant. It also gave us a chance to grab lunch with Pastor Scott, his wife, Terri, and their youngest daughter, Lydia. We really enjoyed getting to know them better and learning about the church and the wonderful work they’re doing in their community. After lunch, Lindsie and I found some time to catch up on a few things we had fallen behind on. Before we knew it, bedtime had hit and we were getting ready for the next day’s adventures.

Sharlot and Lindsie

The next stop on the map was North Vernon, Indiana, where we’d be staying at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. One of the church’s receptionists, Sharlot, had invited us to stay in one of their buildings for the night, and we were thankful yet again. Sharlot was awesome, and we had fun talking with her before we got settled in for the evening. After a tasty lasagna dinner with Reverend Meyer at the church (where he was also hosting a dinner for the high school cross country team he coaches), we called it a night and got some sleep.

Versailles (pronounced verr-sales), Indiana, was the next stop on the map. Unfortunately, we hadn’t been able to find any churches in the area willing to host us for a night, so we posted on Facebook that we were having some issues finding a place to stay. Thankfully, a friend from South Dakota who is following our journey, Kathy, offered to pay for a room at the hotel in Versailles. We were incredibly thankful, as our next best option was to camp on the side of the road somewhere, hoping it wasn’t private property. So with much thanks, we rested at the motel, ate a tasty meal at nearby Ernie’s Pizza, and slept like rocks.

Lindsie, Mike, Carrie, Dan, and Jim

From Versailles, we headed to Aurora, Indiana, to meet Pastor Dan from First United Methodist Church. Pastor Dan was awesome. He’s a younger guy very much into backpacking and hiking, so our journey had him intrigued, to say the least. Pastor Dan informed us that the church’s organist, Jim, was going to put us up in his beautiful bed & breakfast for the night. Obviously, we were thankful. After we got to the church (which is beautiful and is part of the National Register of Historic Places), Pastor Dan asked if he could take us out to eat. We made our way toward a tasty Mexican restaurant nearby and were joined by Dan’s wife, Carrie, as well as Jim, our host for the evening. After a really fun conversation, it was just about time for bed. We got to the bed and breakfast, enjoyed all of the history Jim had collected to decorate the house, and then fell asleep hard in a very comfortable bed.

Welcome to Ohio indeedThe next day was an exciting one—we were going to cross another state off our list as we left Indiana and walked into Ohio. Thankfully, Whitewater Crossing Christian Church in Cleves, Ohio, had offered to take care of us for a night, so we already knew we had a nice place to stay. We crossed over the river into Ohio and pushed on toward the church, excited for another comfortable night of sleep and the prospect of more fellowship at the Bible study taking place that evening.

We reached the church in the early afternoon, and Diane was there to show us to the building we’d be staying in (which had a shower—always nice after a day of walking). Then Diane was kind enough to show us around the area, including a few ridiculously beautiful spots high up on a hill that overlooked the valley. Calling it majestic wouldn’t do it justice. Then that night we made some spaghetti for dinner and enjoyed a Bible study with several women from the church.

The Whitewater Crossing Bible study group

The next morning we set out for Cincinnati, where we had something amazing in store for us—our friend Christina from ALL the way back in Newton, Kansas, had just moved to Cincinnati with her husband, Brian, a week before. And they wanted us to stay with them AGAIN (weirdos, huh?). We were so thankful, as we really had a blast with Christina the first time around and we wanted to meet Brian, since he hadn’t been there on our first visit.

After a full day of walking into Cincinnati, Christina drove out and met us to bring us back to their house, which was about 10 miles away. We had a blast catching up with her and seeing her new house. Then when Brian came home, we had a blast meeting him. After a mouthwatering dinner of homemade pot roast, we went out for some tasty custard for dessert. Then we came home, talked for a little while longer, and went to bed for a night of rest.

Mike, Lindsie, Jaeda, Christina, and Brian

The plan the next day was for us to walk through Cincinnati, and then have Christina pick us up again for a second night at their house. After loading up and driving all the way back out to where we had left off, we realized we had made a mistake—neither Lindsie nor I remembered to grab handlebars for the cart we were going to use that day. That meant we had no way to push our stuff. And no way to carry our stuff. Which, all in all, meant we wouldn’t be walking that day at all.

Slightly disappointed, but also excited to have a full day with Brian and Christina, we made our way back to Christina’s house. We used the opportunity to get a lot of other stuff done, and then looked forward to a tasty night of dinner with the two of them. Also, we should mention that they were kind enough to let us stay with them, even though it was their anniversary that night. To be fair, we didn’t know it was their anniversary until after we had accepted the invitation to stay, so it’s not like we just rudely came in and invaded their celebration or anything. At least, that’s what we’re telling ourselves.

Anyway, we had another wonderful night with Brian and Christina, and we look forward to stopping by to see them again on our way back home. We left some items at their house, so we will get to see them yet again when we stop by to pick them up.

Jaeda, hiding from the sun

We actually did have to leave the next morning, so we walked our way through Cincinnati toward Milford, Ohio. And that is where this post will leave off. At this point, we have fewer than 40 days of walking and almost fewer than 600 miles to go, so the goal is in sight and there is light at the end of the tunnel!

We’ll have another update soon, but until then, we appreciate the continued prayers and support that you’ve shown us throughout our journey. We have been blessed beyond measure, and our only request is that you continue praying for us. For protection, for open hearts of pastors and churches we contact, and for warm weather as we race winter over to the east coast. We appreciate it beyond words.

As we get closer and closer to our goal, this verse from Hebrews really hit me during my Bible study this week. I hope it hits you in the same way. It’s Hebrews 3:14…

“For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.”

That’s a pretty awesome promise, to say the least. We just need to stay faithful to the end.

Have a blessed day, and we’ll be back with more soon.

-Mike and Lindsie (and Jaeda)

From Illinois to Indiana and Beyond

Beautiful corn...and lots of it!We have a confession to make: Even though it has only been a little over a week since our last blog post, we have traveled much, much farther than the blog would have you believe. We’re really trying to get all caught up on the blog, but there’s just so much that happens everyday that it’s hard to keep up. But we will continue doing our best.

As you may remember from the last post, we were just about to make our way out of O’Fallon, Illinois, to continue cruising across the lovely Land of Lincoln. Our first stop after O’Fallon was Trenton, Illinois. And, once again thanks to our friend Josh, we had a connection in the Trenton area. Josh had met a guy named Ryan during his own walk, and we connected with Ryan as a result. Ryan was pumped to meet us (and we were equally pumped to meet him). Ryan also told his friend Mike about us, and Mike was just as excited as Ryan. Mike talked to his church pastor in Trenton, and the church decided to go out of its way to take care of us for a night. Pastor Bob and his wife, Linda, from New Life Christian Center not only took us out to lunch when we reached Trenton, but they let us know that they’d gotten us a hotel room in nearby Breese so we could enjoy a night of comfort.

Mike and Ryan

That afternoon in Breese, Ryan had time to swing by and hang out. We had a blast talking with him and getting some great fellowship in the Spirit, and we were blessed that God worked out the timing so perfectly. Of course, God wasn’t finished filling us up spiritually that day. Later in the evening, a group of people from New Life Christian Center met us for a fantastic dinner in nearby Aviston. It was a full day of blessings, fun, and fellowship, and we were incredibly thankful for everything. On top of that, one of the employees from the hotel, Pam, wanted to make sure Jaeda had enough dog food, so she bought a bag of dog food (along with a few treats) and dropped them off for us at our room. As usual, God had it planned out, because we were one day away from being out of dog food for Jaeda at that point, so the timing was perfect.

Lindsie, Pam, and Jaeda

After dinner, we went back to sleep for the night. In order to avoid the heat, our new friend Mike was going to pick us up around 4 a.m. to take us back to Trenton so we could get moving again nice and early. We said goodbye to Mike that morning and started walking again, heading toward Carlyle, Illinois. We arrived at the First Baptist Church in Carlyle and were pleasantly surprised to find sandwiches waiting in the fridge for us thanks to one of the church members. Pastor Mark talked with us for awhile and then gave us a tour of Carlyle, which sits right on Carlyle Lake, the largest man-made lake in Illinois. After the tour, Linds and I settled in for the night and enjoyed just spending time together for a few hours.

The New Life Christian Center crewThe next morning we got up for a 19-mile walk to Odin, Illinois. We reached Gospel Lighthouse Church, and talked with Pastor Curt for a few minutes. Although we didn’t know it beforehand, Pastor Curt was kind enough to get us a room in nearby Salem. We were incredibly appreciative for the church’s generosity. However, in order to beat the steadily increasing heat, Lindsie and I needed to pack up again and push a few more miles into Salem. We reached the Super 8 and were thankful to sit down and rest in some air conditioning. Our plan was to get up bright and early the next morning and make the now-shorter trip to Iuka, Illinois. Unfortunately about 5 minutes after we left the hotel, rain started POURING down. Rather than trying to fight through it, we turned around and went back to hang out in our hotel room for another hour and a half. As we dried off and warmed up, we felt like we’d made the right choice.

Mike and Pastor MarkOnce the rain stopped, we got back out on the road again and hit the small-but-lovely town of Iuka, Illinois, a few hours later. Thankfully, Janet from the Iuka United Methodist Church told us we could stay at the church for a night, so we arrived and got settled in, excited for a solid afternoon of rest and relaxation. A short time after we got there, Janet and her husband Wayne stopped in to say hello. We had a great chat with them, and they were kind enough to offer to go grab us dinner. Wayne returned a few hours later with some tasty pizza, which Lindsie and I quickly devoured.

We left the peaceful town of Iuka the next morning and got to Flora, Illinois, after a full day of walking. Once again, a church had offered to put us in a hotel for the evening. Thanks to Pastor David at First Southern Baptist Church, we had another place to sleep for a night. Although we didn’t get a chance to meet Pastor David, we were thankful for his willingness to provide for two strangers.

Lindsie, Janet, and Wayne

The next stop on the journey was Olney, Illinois, (home of the White Squirrels of Olney), where the Christian Church had attempted to pay for a hotel at The Holiday Motel and Restaurant. But when the church receptionist tried to reserve a room, the owner of The Holiday, Julie, said she’d just take care of us for the night. Talk about an extra blessing! The Holiday was AWESOME. Formerly a popular 60s motel, The Holiday had fallen under hard times. New owners (Julie and her husband, I believe) took over and have done some heavy renovating to get it up to new standards. We had such a fantastic night of sleep that Lindsie and I decided to stay a second night, and we’re glad we did. All in all, The Holiday gets a thumbs up from us, so make sure you stop in if you’re ever spending a night in Olney.

The camp area...lovely, right?Following a second night of fantastic sleep, we left the next morning heading toward Lawrenceville, Illinois. We had plans to stay somewhere in Lawrenceville, but, unfortunately, our plans fell through about 3 hours before we got to town. We called as many churches as we could looking for a place to stay, but we weren’t able to come up with a backup option. Thankfully, the Lord was looking out for us once again. Since we had gotten into Kansas, we hadn’t walked past a single National or State Park/Forest, but, two miles away from where we were in Illinois, Red Hills State Park offered camping. We got to the campground and set up our tent, which we hadn’t done since all the way back in Colorado. It was fun to be doing things that way. At least, it was fun until raccoons got into the food cart and started nibbling on our bread at 2:00 a.m. That was a little bit of a bummer. But once I covered the cart back up with our tarp, we had no more raccoon problems.

Proof of the not-so-sneaky raccoons...The next morning, the blessings really started to flow. As we made our way toward Lawrenceville, our plan was to push all the way through Lawrenceville to reach Vincennes, Indiana. But just a few miles after we left the campground, a minivan pulled over along the side of the road. Two women, Nancy and Heather, told us how cute they thought Jaeda was. Nancy was particularly excited because she raises and shows Yorkies (like Jaeda) at dog shows. In fact, one of Nancy’s Yorkies won Best of Breed at the Westminster Dog Show in 2010. Crazy, right? Anyway, Nancy and Heather asked what we were walking for, and when we told them it was to learn to trust and rely on Jesus for provision, they got even MORE excited (if that was even possible). Nancy more or less demanded that we stay at her and her husband’s house that night. All Nancy had to do was mention that Lindsie could see all of her Yorkies and that deal was sealed.

All of our friends in Lawrenceville (with Lindsie)We got to Nancy’s and she told us we’d be staying in her very nice, very comfortable RV that she uses to travel to dog shows. We had no complaints there, to say the least. While we were at Nancy’s, her neighbors from across the street came over to meet us. Caleb and his wife, Heidi, stopped over, along with their kids Destiny, Serina, and Breanna. We had fun talking with them, and then it was time to do some other fun stuff. Nancy’s church, Fountain Fellowship Worldwide, was setting up their booth for the town’s annual Harvest Festival, and we decided to go help out. Heather (who we met on the side of the road) sent her son, Parker, over to pick us up. Parker is a Christian musician who has been a part of several bands that have done nationwide tours, so it was fun hearing some of his stories and adventures as a musician. His current band, As We Are, has some great music out if you’re into Christian rock. Parker is the lead guitarist for AWA, so we’re praying for his band’s continued success.

Setting up at the Harvest FestivalAnyway, we helped set up at the event for awhile, then Parker was kind enough to swing by Walmart with us before returning home. We chatted for about an hour, then decided we should probably get some sleep.

We got a fantastic night of sleep and got ready to head out the next morning. Even though it was raining, our plan was to power through. We had a 22-mile day to reach Wheatland, Indiana, and we made it about 7 miles before the non-stop rain had taken its toll on us. We were soaked to the bone and our feet were getting blisters thanks to our soggy socks and shoes. We made a pretty pathetic-sounding call to Nancy, and she gladly raced out with Heather to rescue us from the rain. As we warmed up in the comfy RV, we thanked God yet again for providing us with good people to take care of us and a safe place to rest. It seems like in our most disappointing moments of difficulty, God shines through the brightest, and that’s how we felt as we sat warm and toasty in Nancy’s RV, thankful for our new friends.

Mike and ParkerFortunately, the weather got nicer as the evening came around, and we decided to reunite with Parker and visit the Harvest Festival for a few hours. We had fun visiting the church’s baked potato booth, riding a few carnival rides, and spending time with awesome people. We were finding it harder and harder to want to leave Lawrenceville, to say the least.

But we did eventually have to leave. The next morning Nancy dropped us back off where we’d left off the day before, and we pushed toward Wheatland, Indiana, this time traveling much more dryly than we had been on our first attempt. We crossed into Indiana (woohoo!) and had a new surprise once we reached Vincennes—Wendy, a youth leader from my high school youth group in Texas (and one of my closest friends from that church) was traveling nearby and wanted to meet us for lunch. Wendy and I hadn’t seen each other since I graduated from high school, so it was so awesome that God provided a way to randomly reconnect us in Vincennes, Indiana.

Wendy and MikeWe got to a restaurant in order to grab a bite to eat, but we hadn’t realized the restaurant was part of a country club. We also hadn’t realized that the restaurant didn’t open until 4:00 p.m., and it was only noon at that point. The problem was that it was the only nearby restaurant within a few miles, and we didn’t have an easy lunch solution (besides a gas station burrito) in the immediate vicinity. We told one of the country club employees about our situation, and he was kind enough to fire up the grill and make us lunch, even though they technically weren’t open yet. Thankful yet again for people’s kindness and willingness to help, we enjoyed a fantastic meal and conversation with Wendy. I was glad she had a chance to meet Lindsie, and we felt blessed that she drove several hours out of her way to reconnect with us and be a part of our journey. Plus, it’s just fun to see old friends and familiar faces on a journey like this.

After saying farewell to Wendy, we eventually arrived at Wheatland Christian Church in the early evening. Pastor Brent came over to let us into the church with his two lovely daughters, Graceanna and Elaina, and we enjoyed chatting with them while they showed us around the church. As an added blessing, the church receptionist, Carol, had left a feast for us in the kitchen. We had a chicken tetrazzini casserole, some fresh bread, a whole plate of cookies, and plenty of cold water. And every bite and drink of it was delicious. After saying goodbye to Pastor Brent and his daughters, we settled in for the night, preparing for a long walk to Loogootee, Indiana.

Lindsie, Graceanna, Pastor Brent, Renée, and ElainaAlthough we got a good night of sleep, Lindsie woke up around four in the morning with a migraine. And, unfortunately, migraines make cross-country walking pretty difficult. We asked Pastor Brent if we could stay an extra night at the church since there was no way we’d make it all the way to Loogootee, Indiana, that night. Not only was he kind enough to let us stay, but he offered to let us stay at the guest bedroom in their house. Thankfully, Lindsie’s headache began to go away after a few hours, and we actually put in 7 miles of walking toward Loogootee in order to make the next day shorter. Then Pastor Brent picked us up, brought us back to grab our stuff, and we went to his house.

When we got there, we met his wife, Renée, and got ready for some fantastic lasagna that was calling our name. While at the house, Pastor Brent, a very skilled craftsman (though he’d never boast about it himself) worked on a few pieces of our carts that were still in need of some mechanical upgrades. Then it was time to eat, and eat we did. We had a blast talking with Pastor Brent and the rest of his family, and we said yet another prayer of thanks to God for connecting us with the right people on our route.

Lindsie, Mike, Pastor Ernie, Shirley, DeannaThe next morning, after a tasty breakfast prepared by Pastor Brent, we headed toward Loogootee (pronounced “luh-go-tee,” by the way). Pastor Ernie and his wife, Shirley, invited us to stay in their church, New Beginnings Community Church, in town, which was awesome. When we arrived, they brought us over to their house for a fantastic dinner of friend chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and more. We were very full, and we enjoyed a night of spirit-filled conversation and story sharing. After a good night of sleep at the church, we got up the next morning for breakfast at Ernie’s. Shirley made MORE delicious food, and we filled up as much as we could handle. Then, because it was Sunday morning, we stayed for Bible study before church. We got to speak with the kids in the youth group, which was a treat. The only bummer was that we had to hit the road before church, but Pastor Ernie said a wonderful prayer for us right before we left, and we were thankful we got to spend time there.

The reason we had to leave early is because we were heading for Huron, Indiana. There’s really not much at all in Huron, so that wasn’t exactly the reason. But because there’s nothing in Huron, Pastor Brent from Wheatland had offered to pick us up to stay at their house one more night, with the plan being to bring us all the way back out the next morning. And because we were coming back to Wheatland, we had an opportunity to talk with the Wheatland Christian Church congregation about our journey. We had a great time answering questions, sharing the miracles God has done for us, and meeting the people from the congregation. We felt blessed to have been there, and we think (and pray) we made it worthwhile for the church members. All in all, it was an awesome night for us.

Nature is beautiful, huh?The next morning, we loaded up in Pastor Brent’s truck and rode back out to the Huron area. We felt very blessed because the road ahead of us was really hilly and curvy, but Pastor Brent had connected with a family in Bedford (the next stop on our route) who was willing to hold on to our carts for us for the day so we could avoid having to push them up the hills. So after dropping us off and saying goodbye, Pastor Brent rode on ahead while we started walking toward Bedford.

And once again, I’ve noticed this post has gotten long. Unfortunately, we’re still behind, but now that we’re somewhat caught up, the next post shouldn’t take too long to get up. If our days weren’t so action-packed and full of blessings, it would be a lot easier to get caught up to where we are now. But as long as we keep being blessed and provided for, the posts will probably continue to be thorough.

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement as we get closer and closer to our goal. We’re only a handful of weeks away from hitting the Atlantic Ocean, and every prayer we’ve received has been a blessing for sure. The continued support has just been overwhelming, and we are so thankful.

The next post will be coming soon, I promise. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks for the support.

God bless.

-Mike and Lindsie (and Jaeda)

Walking East Through the Gateway to the West

The Gateway to the WestAs you may remember from our last post, Lindsie, Jaeda, and I were on the verge of making our way into St. Louis—one of the larger cities on this journey across America. We were struggling to make any contacts in the St. Louis area at first, but thanks to our friend Josh (who is walking across the country east-to-west and who we met back in this post), we were able to connect with Jeremy, a guy in St. Louis that Josh had stayed with. And thanks to a friend of Jeremy’s named Brandon, we found out at the last minute that we’d have a place to stay in St. Louis. Needless to say, we were thankful. We weren’t exactly desperate to wander into St. Louis without a place to stay for the night, so it was a blessing that the Lord had better plans for us.

Our goalwas to leave Valley Park bright and early that morning and make our way all the way to the Eads Bridge, which is the bridge that spans the Mississippi River and would take us into Illinois. We started walking along Interstate 44 toward St. Louis and things were going pretty well, until we ran into a slight problem—the bridge into St. Louis going across the Meramec River was about a quarter-mile long…and it had no shoulder whatsoever. As Lindsie and I stared at four lanes full of cars coming at us 70+ miles per hour, we decided we would have to re-route. As a result, we added about five extra miles to our day and had to take a very different road into St. Louis.

As bummed as we were, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. The weather wasn’t bad and the new road would have sidewalks after a little while, which would be nice. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of our walking woes. A few miles after our detour, the front wheel of my cart broke. Frustratingly, it broke in exactly the same way the other front wheel of my cart had broken back on the way to Dixon, Missouri. That one, you might remember, was somewhat miraculously fixed thanks to some crafty welding work from a friend in Dixon. And while the previously-welded wheel was still perfectly intact on Lindsie’s cart, it was now the non-welded wheel that had a breakdown. So that was a bummer.

We pulled off the road and began to take the wheel apart, hoping we could come up with a temporary fix that would at least get us to the Eads Bridge. We weren’t exactly in an area full of mechanic shops and it didn’t seem like we’d be able to do much besides hope our temporary fix would hold out. But, about two minutes after pulling off the road, a large white van pulled up next to us. A gentleman got out and said, “Hey Mike and Lindsie, I’m Jim from the other night in Pacific. Do you guys need help?” If you remember Pastor David and his family from our time in Pacific, Missouri, Jim was Pastor David’s next-door neighbor. We couldn’t believe it.

We explained the situation to Jim and mentioned that it seemed the only way to fix our wheel was to weld it like it had been welded in Dixon. That’s when Jim (and God, really) surprised us with a miracle—Jim said, “Hold on just one second” and made a phone call. He said something along the lines of, “Hey Glen, remember those people David talked about at church? The ones walking across America? They need some welding help. Do you think we could take care of that?” Lindsie and I just looked at each other in disbelief.

The first miracle of the day...

A few seconds later, Jim hung up and told us to grab the wheel. His office was around the corner and they had a welding machine there. He wouldn’t be able to weld it himself, but another guy at his office could take care of it for us. It turns out Glen is Jim’s boss, and Glen is a very active member of Pastor David’s church in Pacific. Our minds were just about ready to explode.

Jim drove me over to the shop, informed a gentleman who could weld about our situation, and headed off to work himself. The welder grabbed our wheel, made a few adjustments, and then got to welding. Less than ten minutes later, we had a fully-functional front wheel. Once again, God had done things only God could do, and for that we were thankful.

Looking back on the situation, it’s crazy. After our wheel broke, a guy we met FORTY miles back in Pacific, Missouri, came across us a block away from his office, where he just so happened to work in an office that had welding tools (even though almost every other building in the area was an accounting office or law office of some sort), and happened to have a boss who was willing to sacrifice company time to get us taken care of and back on the road. On top of that, we weren’t even SUPPOSED to be on that road—our (clearly imperfect) plan was to be on I-44 at that point. Just unbelievable.

Once the wheel was repaired, Lindsie and I said a very loud prayer of thanks and began walking again. It was getting warm at that point, and we still had about 17 miles to go thanks to our detour. Thankfully, our friend Brandon had offered to come pick up our carts early so we could walk most of the way through St. Louis and to the Eads Bridge without our carts. As he made his way toward us, we continued down the road.

Unfortunately, due to some rugged terrain and some generally not-quite-top-of-the-line parts/materials, my wheel hit a rut and cracked the welding job that had just been performed. As a result, my wheel was back to broken and it was now almost noon and very warm. We were getting a little stressed.

We decided to just call it a day, and we waited for Brandon to show up. He arrived soon after we stopped, and we loaded up the carts into his newspaper van. As we explained everything that had happened, we mentioned that if he knew any mechanics/welders in town, we’d probably need to take the wheel in and pay for it to be done somewhere to ensure its stability. Brandon replied, “Sure, we can do that.” I then asked, “OK, so do you have a specific shop in town you’d recommend? And would you be willing to take us by there at some point?” His reply: “No, I mean literally, we can do that. My dad’s an electrician and Charlie, whose house you’re staying at tonight, is a mechanic. We have all the tools and skills we need to fix your wheels.”

It was like God had sent us a backup miracle, just for the fun of it.

We couldn’t believe it. As we drove to where we were staying that night, we had a great conversation with Brandon. After many phone calls and his heroic rescue of our stranded selves, it was nice to finally meet Brandon in person. Since Charlie, whose house we were staying at, and his wife, Debbie, were out for the afternoon, we just dropped off our stuff there and went to hang out with Brandon’s family. It was fun to meet his mom, Stacy, his sisters Miranda and Marissa, and his dad Mike. Plus, Charlie and Debbie’s new baby, Kayleigh, was at Brandon’s family’s house too. It was busy, but very fun.

Later that night, we went back over to Charlie’s to settle in for the evening. While we were over there, Brandon, Charlie, and Brandon’s dad, Mike, began looking at our carts. Using their mechanically-inclined brains, they came up with about seven different ways to drastically improve our carts’ functionality, and they set to work making those upgrades and improvements. My brain almost exploded with the provision God has given us on this walk. An entire team of people committed to improving our faulty gear? You’ve got to be kidding.

Lindsie, riding a giant turtle that ate MikeAnyway, our first night in St. Louis was wonderful. We at a delicious meal with Charlie and Debbie, got a great night of sleep, and woke up refreshed and ready to walk. Our plan was to walk the last 11 miles we hadn’t finished the day before, so we got dropped off bright and early and hoofed it to the Eads Bridge. After that, Brandon’s sisters Amber and Marissa picked us up by the bridge and drove us around the St. Louis area for a little while. We got to go take awesome pictures of the Arch and see some other stuff along the way. Then we went back to shower, have lunch (St. Louis-style pizza and toasted ravioli), and the plan was to visit the St. Louis Zoo. Unfortunately, the zoo was closing at 5:00 p.m. and it was currently 3:45. So we drove around instead and visited a park with giant turtle sculptures. So that was neat.

That evening, the girls in our group of new friends wanted to take Lindsie out for a “girls’ night,” something she hadn’t been able to enjoy in quite a while. Mostly because I’m not a girl, and she spends 99.7% of her time with me. So while Lindsie and a large group of girls went out for a night of fun, Brandon, Charlie, and a few other guys grilled and ate way too much delicious food…which is essentially a “guys’ night.” Then, the girls wanted to do something special as a late birthday surprise for Lindsie, so they secretly commanded the guys to go buy some cakes and surprise Lindsie with them when they got back. She was surprised indeed, and we finished off the night with delicious cake and happiness.

Girls' night!The next day was a day that had been stressing me out for a few weeks. We were going to be crossing the Mississippi River and heading to O’Fallon, Illinois. And in order to get to O’Fallon, Illinois, we would have to pass through East St. Louis. For those of you who don’t know, East St. Louis isn’t exactly the friendliest/safest place to take a cross-country stroll. I had faith that God would take care of us, but as the protector of a family, I was still more nervous than I would have liked to be.

Thankfully, God always knows when to send the right words of reassurance. The night before we were ready to head into East St. Louis, I was doing my Bible study and came across this passage in 2 Samuel 22:2-4…

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies.”

Kaila (and her baby), and Lindsie

Talk about perfect timing. The next morning we were up bright and early, and Charlie dropped us off at the Eads Bridge where we’d left off. We walked over and made our way into Illinois. We didn’t exactly walk through East St. Louis, as there was actually a road that goes a little ways around the city that ends up turning into Highway 50, which is the highway we intended to connect with. Regardless, God kept us safe and sound as we traveled, and the only people who talked to us at all were two women who thought Jaeda was adorable. That tends to happen a lot, it seems.

From there, we made it to O’Fallon, where we met up with one of Lindsie’s friends from her graduate school days at Evangel. Kaila drove over from Belleville, Illinois to chat with us for a few hours and say hello. We were excited to see a friendly face, and enjoyed our afternoon hanging out with her. Then Brandon came to pick us up and steal us back to St. Louis for another night. Our plan was to go to church with his sisters the next morning, and then we were going to stay again at Charlie’s.

The whole St. Louis crew (mostly)

Or so we thought. But we realized on Saturday evening that the best option for everyone involved would be to meet up with Brandon’s friend Chris—also from Belleville—on Sunday night and then pick back up again in nearby O’Fallon the next morning. Thankfully, Chris and his wife Jihannah were ok with that plan, which was awesome. We went to church with Charlie, Debbie, and Brandon’s sisters (Brandon had church at a different church in St. Louis) and enjoyed a great morning there. After an afternoon of good conversation and final adjustments to our carts, we made our way to Chris and Jihannah’s. We said a sad goodbye to our St. Louis friends and said a joyful hello to our new friends in Illinois. And after a delicious meal with Chris and Jihannah, we went to bed and got ready to rock and roll across Illinois.

Unfortunately, due to chaotic (in a good way) events, we’re still not quite caught up on the blog, but I promise we should be all caught up by the next post. For now, I’m going to end here to avoid letting things get too much longer. In truth, we’re just about to hit Indiana, so I should have the next update up soon.

Mike, Chris, Jihannah, and Lindsie

For now, please continue to share with us if you have prayer requests or anything like that. We’re happy to be praying for people out here on the road. And if you happen to know anyone who lives along Highway 50 between Indiana and Maryland, please let us know if they’d be interested in hosting us for an evening. We love meeting new people and would certainly enjoy the opportunity.

Thanks for reading, and we’ll be back with the next post soon!

-Mike and Lindsie (and Jaeda)

Almost Across The Mighty Mississippi

Another beautiful sunrise from the road...Man oh man, do we have plenty to catch up on! We last left off getting ready to head toward Rolla, Missouri, after leaving our friends in Dixon and making our way east. Let’s just say a lot has happened since that last post.

For starters, we made our way from Jerome, Missouri, toward Rolla. Thanks to our friend Rocky in Dixon, we learned with much excitement that it’s legal for people to walk on the interstate in Missouri. Now, before you think to yourself, Well that sounds like the dumbest, most dangerous thing I’ve ever heard, let me explain why we were excited.

For the past few weeks, the Storming Jericho trio had been walking through the county roads and state highways crossing through the Ozarks. The problem with those county roads and state highways is that “Ozarks” might as well be the Latin word for “hills.” Beautiful hills, but hills nonetheless. And as a result of those hills, the back roads we were on were full of twists, turns, rises, falls, and shoulders about as wide as a pencil. On top of that, the roads themselves were full of drivers who like to FLY along those roads. Bottom line: those roads were pretty stinkin’ dangerous. a sugar glider...

So when we pushed onto Interstate 44 toward Rolla, we breathed a sigh of relief. The cars were flying by faster—only a few miles per hour faster I should add—but our shoulder was about 10 feet wide. Slightly more appealing than what we faced on the back roads. Even better—the interstate was flattened out substantially. Fewer hills, fewer turns, and a wide shoulder meant happy walkers.

After a few hours on the road, we rolled into Rolla, Missouri. Due to our very abrupt change in route, we hadn’t had much time to call churches in Rolla. As we scrambled to find any church that would be willing to have us, a church called Life Church said we were welcome. We made our way there, but a few minutes later our friend Hollie from Dixon told us her friend Aimee in Rolla was coming to get us. That’s just how Hollie rolls.

Kevin, Aimee, and their awesome family

Aimee pulled up and her excitement and energy were contagious. We made our way to her house after a quick stop by Walmart and Lindsie was overjoyed to see that Aimee had sugar gliders (pictured near this paragraph). I, Mike, was less-than-overjoyed with the sugar gliders, mostly because Lindsie wants to own them herself someday and I am less inclined to own them. I knew as soon as Lindsie saw/held/loved them, she would demand we get them. And she did. I told her it would need to wait until the walk was over. We’ll see where it goes from there.

The World's Largest Rocking Chair

Anyway, we had a really fun night with Aimee and the rest of her family. And thanks to Aimee’s job, I was able to custom-build a beautiful locket for Lindsie’s birthday present. Lindsie was happy, which made me happy. After a great night of sleep at Aimee’s, her husband Kevin got up bright and early to drive us back out to where we’d left off the day before. We said goodbye and continued on the road toward Cuba, Missouri. Thanks to the crew at First Baptist Church in Cuba, we had a destination ahead of us. And along the way, we got to stop at the World’s Largest Rocking Chair. So that was neat.

We pressed on through a pretty brutal day of heat and humidity, and we finally reached Cuba sweating and exhausted. We were delighted, however, to discover that we would be staying in the missionary house next door to the church, which meant we had a whole house to ourselves. After dropping off our gear, one of the church deacons, Russ, and his wife, Robin, asked to take us out to lunch. Food and unlimited ice water was an offer we couldn’t turn down at that point. We went out to a delicious barbecue restaurant, enjoyed a fantastic conversation, and then, on the way home, we stopped at the local newspaper so a reporter could interview us. All in all, it was an eventful day. We had fun, but we were also excited to rest and relax for the evening.

Russ, Robin, and Mike

We went to sleep that night and, unfortunately, it seemed the heat from the day before had taken its toll on us. We woke up in the morning and felt drained to the point of exhaustion. After asking Russ if we could wait one more day in Cuba, he was kind enough to say that wouldn’t be a problem. We spent the rest of the day resting, and we are thankful we did. The next morning we were able to hit the road and get back on track.

Pastor Steve, Mike, and LindsieWe pushed on from Cuba to Sullivan, Missouri bright and early the next morning. And thanks to Pastor Steve at Grace United Methodist Church, we were welcomed with open arms. We arrived early enough to avoid getting roasted in the heat, and sat down for an evening of ice water drinking and air conditioning enjoying. We had a great time talking with Pastor Steve, and we were also thankful to have a little bit more time to catch up on things later in the afternoon. All in all, our stop in Sullivan ended up being exactly what we needed.

Lindsie is an acrobatThe next morning we got up early to make our way toward St. Clair, Missouri. While we were bummed to still get caught by the not-so-pleasant heat of the early afternoon, we were excited about our lodging for the night. Pastor Johnny from Central Missionary Baptist in St. Clair had offered to put us up in a fantastic hotel in St. Clair. Although the name isn’t exactly inspiring, Budget Lodging was fantastic. We were especially impressed with the ownership’s boldness in faith. Besides numerous references to their Christian beliefs in a letter posted in the room, we were happy to find the room’s Bible not tucked away in a drawer, but lying open on the dresser with Psalm 4:8 highlighted. That Psalm reads:

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety.

Mike and the Central Missionary Baptist crew

Beautiful. But that’s not the only reason we were happy. We were also very pumped about the hotel’s pool, which we used to cool off from the brutal heat of the day. While we swam, Lindsie used her waterproof camera case to take some really fun action shots. Later in the day, Pastor Johnny and other members of the staff from Missionary Baptist came by to meet us and say a prayer, which we gratefully accepted. Then, to top it all off, Pastor Johnny’s wife, Sharon, brought us dinner later that evening.

The next morning we stopped by to check out, and even though it was only 4:00 a.m., the woman at the front desk, Christy, let us grab breakfast and enjoy a fun chat before we left. From St. Clair, we were on our way to Pacific, Missouri. Thanks to Pastor David and his wife, Christy, from Mission Community Church, we had a place to stay. In fact, we had an entire RV to ourselves. At least we would…when we actually spent the night in Pacific. But before that would happen, we were going to be visited by some very special friends. Who, you ask?

Our friend Tonya from all the way back in Nevada, Missouri, was actually in nearby St. Louis to visit her mom! And she wanted to pick us up to hang out! Equally as important to us, Tonya had just recently given birth to her and her husband Dana’s second daughter, Acacia, and it meant we would actually get to meet Acacia (or Cacie, for short). PLUS we would get to see their other adorable daughter, Talitha. So pretty quickly after we pulled into Pacific, Tonya arrived to steal us away to St. Louis for the night. Pastor David was kind enough to let us leave most of our gear at his house while we reconnected with Tonya and met her family in St. Louis.

Adorable Talitha with adorable LindsieWe were excited to be there, and Tonya’s family was great to us. We ate some delicious meals, went swimming—and busted out Lindsie’s waterproof camera case again—and had a solid night of sleep at Tonya’s family’s. Then the next day we had yet another surprise in store for us. Lindsie’s graduate school friend, Jessica, wanted to drive down from Quincy, Illinois, to pick us up to spend the night at her parents’ house!

After saying a sad goodbye to Tonya, Talitha, and Acacia (unfortunately, Dana wasn’t able to make it out until after we had left), we went with Jessica to Quincy. We got to meet her parents, Greg and Donetta, and we had a fantastic night full of tasty food and even better conversation. Even though our time with Jess’s family was short, we had a blast and were thankful for the opportunity to meet and spend time with them. Somehow, much to our frustration and disappointment, we forgot to get a photo with Jessica’s family, so if we end up getting one in the future, we’ll be sure to add it in.

The whole delightful group in Pacific, MOAnyway, after another great night of rest, we finally made our way back toward Pacific. Thanks to Pastor David being so flexible, we still had a place to stay that night, even though it was Labor Day. In fact, Pastor David and his wife made a wonderful meal and a whole group of people came over to eat good food and celebrate Labor Day. We enjoyed getting to talk with everyone, and we also enjoyed getting to spend time with the rest of Pastor David’s family, which included David and Christy’s kids, Jeremiah, Bethany, Sofia, Bentley, and Blake. All in all, the night was a huge blessing to us. We went to bed a little sad that our weekend of new friends, rest, and relaxation was coming to a close.

Or so we thought. But thanks to an unfortunately-timed migraine throbbing in Lindsie’s head, we ended up needing to ask Pastor David if there was any chance we could spend another night in his wonderful camper. If we were testing Pastor David’s patience at all, he never showed it in the slightest. He said they’d be happy to have us stay another night, and, after a day of rest and a chance to be a part of the family’s Bible study that evening, Lindsie and I got a good night of sleep. Both of us, this time.

The next morning we got moving VERY early, and we made our way toward Valley Park, Missouri. Thanks to Pastor Kris at Freedom Church in Valley Park, we had a place to stay. It was the Drury Inn and Suites, and it was a delightful place to spend a night. Along the way to Valley Park we had another milestone come up—we crossed the “under 1,000 miles to go” mark! We celebrated by basking in the refreshing air conditioning of a nice hotel and chowing down on the free dinner buffet offered by the Drury Inn and Suites. Although we didn’t get a chance to meet Pastor Kris in person, we certainly appreciated his hospitality.

More beautiful mist in beautiful hillsThe next stop on our journey was a big one—St. Louis, Missouri. And even though this post doesn’t quite catch you up to where we are now, there is just WAY too much incredible stuff that happened in St. Louis (and after) and there’s no way it would all fit into this post. Which means, sadly, we’ll be cutting this post off here and getting another one ready as soon as possible. We promise.

Until then, thank you so much for reading and for continuing to pray for us and send words of encouragement our way. We can’t get over how blessed we are to have so much positive support as we travel these roads. It’s truly incredible.

Like I said, we’ll have another post soon. Be blessed until then.

-Mike and Lindsie (and Jaeda)

Hills, Hills, and More Hills in Missouri

Cartoon of the Storming Jericho journey by Patty CaseWe’re going to start this blog post by sharing an AWESOME gift from a friend we wrote about in an update a few posts back. In that post, we mentioned that we got to enjoy a big dinner with a group of people in Hermitage, Missouri. One of those new friends at dinner was a woman named Patty Case, who pastors at the Christian Church in Hermitage. Patty is also a cartoonist, and she decided to draw a cartoon of us. She said there’s a color version coming soon, but we couldn’t wait to share her fantastic work in this post. So we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Because it’s awesome.

Moving on. After we left that group in Hermitage, Lindsie and I made our way toward Macks Creek, Missouri. It was a hot, hot day, and the sun seemed to be baking us. It was on that day that we got the news my grandfather, Jack Billeter, had passed away.

We knew we had an option for getting to the funeral (the process of which I wrote about here), but we were going to have to wait a few hours to get picked up by our friend Mary. As a result, we needed a place to sit. After walking several miles in hopes of finding a place to sit with shade, we finally found a gravel road with trees. About 10 feet from the road was a gravel driveway and house. Lindsie was nervous about resting on someone’s land, but I convinced her it would be ok. After all, we were on what appeared to be a gravel road, not the driveway itself.

Mike, Mike, Lindsie, and LaurieAfter about an hour, a truck pulled into the driveway. Lindsie was slightly nervous, but the passengers got out and shouted, “You must be Mike and Lindsie!” Linds and I looked at each other, thoroughly confused. Neither of us recognized these people, but they seemed to know us. As it turns out, they were members of the church Patty (the aforementioned cartoonist) is the pastor for. She had talked about us in her sermon, and Mike and Laurie arrived home to find us nearly sitting in their driveway. Not only did they invite us in for dinner and cold water, but they let us wait there for our ride. After attending my Grandpa’s funeral, Mike and Laurie were kind enough to let us stay the night at their house before we started off the next morning toward Macks Creek. Talk about God providing for us on the road. It was such a blessing to have a comfortable place to be as all of these events unfolded. And they knew who we were before we even met them!

Even MORE beautiful nature...but also very hilly nature...And God’s provision continued after that, proving that God has plans for us long before we realize it. You may remember our friends Rich and Joy from Gunnison, Colorado (we wrote about them in this post). Well, before we got ready to head to Macks Creek, Lindsie got a text from Joy asking if we would be walking through Macks Creek. Lindsie said yes, and Joy excitedly responded that she has friends in Macks Creek that would love to have us stay with them. Talk about good news. People we met and befriended on our walk suddenly had OTHER friends to introduce us to farther down the road. Needless to say, we were thankful.

So…after saying goodbye to Mike and Laurie (and after enjoying a delicious breakfast with them), we headed out to meet our new friends of friends in Macks Creek. And while the weather wasn’t too terrible for most of the morning, we ended up getting to enjoy a different challenge—the hills in the Ozarks. Up and down, up and down throughout the day got to be pretty exhausting, but we knew we had to get to our destination.

Lindsie, Mike, Ruth, and Frank (and their puppies)Finally, after a good-but-strenuous day, we pulled in to Frank and Ruth’s house in Macks Creek. Frank and Ruth were great, and they went above and beyond. They offered us a delicious sandwich buffet lunch and then we had some time to ourselves while they worked on some projects at home. Later that evening, we ate some faaaantastic lasagna and just enjoyed a great night of conversation and fellowship. We were so thankful to have that experience with them, and thankful that Rich and Joy were thoughtful enough to pass along Frank and Ruth’s info so we could connect.

The next morning we left with some fresh fruit and homemade lemon poppyseed muffins courtesy of Frank and Ruth, and we enjoyed every bite of both. We made our way toward Buffalo Prairie Baptist Church, which was our next stop on the journey. We had plans to stay at the church that night and we would also have an opportunity to sit in on their weekly Sunday evening Bible study, which we were pumped about.

One problem we were facing, however, was that one of Lindsie’s tire wheels was worn down almost all the way through. We had put four new tires on around the same time, and for some reason one of Lindsie’s tires wore out ten times faster than the other three. We knew we needed to get to a Walmart so we could get a replacement tire, but the closest Walmart (in Camdenton) took us several miles out of our way, so we wouldn’t be able to go. We decided to pray right there on the side of the road that God would send someone who could help us get to Walmart. After we were done, we continued on our way.

Keith, Lindsie, and JeffWe reached Camdenton in the late morning, and, as we pulled into town, we noticed some people waiting in a nearby parking lot to talk with us. Two gentlemen, Keith and Jeff, asked what we were doing and offered to buy us lunch at a restaurant down the road. Naturally, we were happy to oblige them, as we tend to enjoy restaurant lunches more than peanut butter sandwiches. More importantly, we were thankful to be able to share our story with some new people, which is always exciting.

Keith and Jeff were great, and the lunch at RJ’s Family Restaurant in Camdenton was delicious. After we finished eating, Keith said that if we wanted to spend the night at his and his wife Martha’s house, it was on the way toward Montreal and he had a guest bedroom for us. On the one hand, we still would have had to walk seven miles to the church from Keith’s house. On the other hand, the idea of a comfortable guest bedroom at the end of the day is always hard to turn down, especially after the exhaustion we feel walking through these hills in the Ozarks.

We told him we’d decide on our plans as we walked, since we still had about ten miles to go at that point. As we walked, we agreed that God was telling us to stay at Keith’s house. We called Keith and asked whether or not we’d still be able to go to the Bible study at the church in Montreal if we stayed at his house because we wanted to honor that commitment. He assured us that wouldn’t be a problem at all. We made our way to Keith’s and were happy to find him waiting for us in the driveway. He led us up to his house, and we felt even better about staying there that night.

Just some beautiful nature

As we settled in, Keith asked if there was anything we needed. We knew this was our chance to mention the need to get a tire at Walmart, just with the hope he might be willing to make that happen. Without hesitation, Keith said, “We can go right now!” Just like that, our prayers had been answered again. No surprise there, since God has been taking care of that for us throughout this entire trip. But we were thankful nonetheless.

We rode out with Keith, got the supplies we needed, then headed home. Our plan was to go to Bible study at 6:00 p.m. at the church, and Keith said we could just borrow his vehicle to go. Once again, God provides. This man who had just met us this morning was kindhearted enough to let two strangers borrow his vehicle for the evening. We felt so blessed.

We ate a wonderful dinner with Keith, Martha, and Martha’s caretaker Cindy before heading out to the church. We got there and were excited to find a group of about 20 people gathered for Bible study. The pastor, John Book, was glad to have us there and we were glad to be there. He asked us to share our story for a little while and then led the Bible study on various passages in Proverbs. After the Bible study, we had some wonderful snacks and beverages in the fellowship hall, where we got to know more of the awesome Buffalo Prairie church members. Everyone was supportive and encouraging, which we appreciated beyond words. It was an incredibly affirming night for both of us, and we appreciated everything the congregation did for us.

The Buffalo Prairie Baptist Church crewAfter getting back to Keith and Martha’s, Lindsie and I went to bed and got one of the best nights of sleep we’ve had on this entire walk. And since we only had a seven mile walk the next day to reach the church, we didn’t have to go to bed quite so early and we were able to sleep in a little bit, which was great.

We said a sad goodbye to Keith the next morning and began walking to the church. The road was really hilly (what’s new?), but we still got to the church before noon. As a result, we had an entire afternoon to ourselves, which was relaxing and pleasant. Around 6:00 p.m., one of the congregation members, Diane, brought us a wonderful home-cooked meal of chicken strips, mashed potatoes, and corn. Her daughter had made it up for us and every bite was delicious.

That night we went to sleep early and got ready for a 23-mile push to Swedeborg, Missouri. We knew it was going to be a rough one, both because we’d be walking up and down hills and because we were traveling on roads with either a very small shoulder or no shoulder at all. We were out the door at 4:15 a.m. , but the heat was already coming down before 10:00 a.m. Combined with the humidity, we were struggling. Thankfully, we reached a town called Richland along the way. In Richland, we ate at a tasty restaurant and met a wonderful family that we got to chat with. Then, they went above and beyond and paid for our lunch AND gave us a Christian music CD that one of them had produced and performed on. It was awesome.

Our friends in RichlandAfter that, we continued on in the heat. We found a route that would cut 1.5 miles for us, but when we got to it, the road was gravel. We hoped it wouldn’t be bad, but we took it anyway with the hope of saving time and distance. The moral of the story: we need to stop taking gravel roads. It was brutal, particularly the uphill portions. But we eventually reached the Baptist Church in Swedeborg, dripping with sweat and exhausted.

As we arrived, Jim, the church pastor, pulled up to the church. He offered to let us stay at the church, or, if we wanted to, we could stay at his family’s house in Waynesville. We decided to take the guest bedroom option, and were glad we did. Jim and his wife, Jenny, made us feel right at home. They also took us out to this extremely unique restaurant for dinner called The Cave, which, as you might have guessed, is actually inside of a cave. Not modeled to look like a cave. It’s actually in a cave. On top of that, we were surprised that the food was actually delicious too.

The plan for the following day was for us to get up early and walk, but with only one cart. We would leave the rest of our gear at Jim and Jenny’s because we were going to stay at their house again. Why were we staying there again? Because we had an opportunity to share our story with the youth group at the Baptist Church in Swedeborg that night. We were excited to get up and get moving, but, unfortunately, Lindsie woke up that morning with a swollen throat. Her voice made her sound like a muppet, and it was ridiculously hard not to make fun of her, I can assure you. Of course, walking 20+ miles through hills and humidity with a swollen throat is not the best way to travel across the country, so we decided to wait that day at Jim and Jenny’s until she felt better. Thankfully, with some prayer and rest, she was feeling good by the end of the day and we were able to go speak with the youth group kids that evening.

The Burton family with Mike and Lindsie

We had a blast with the group from the church. So many great kids (and adults) with fun, unique questions, and there was a tasty meal there too. It was a win-win situation all around.

After another good night of sleep, Pastor Jim was kind enough to wake up and head out the door at 3:30 in the morning so we could walk to Dixon, Missouri, in cooler weather. We started around 4:00 in the morning, and even though it was dark, we enjoyed the coolness and the less traffic-filled roads.

Unfortunately, even with the early start, it got warm quickly. Before we knew it, we were dripping with sweat again. We still managed to make great progress for most of the morning. Then a few things tried to slow down our progress. We think satan was just trying to ruin our good day.

More beauty in nature

For starters, my (Mike’s) front wheel started to have some issues. At first I tried to ignore it, but pretty soon it was getting to be too much of a problem. After pulling off in someone’s driveway to work on it, we took the wheel apart and found the issue. The threads on the bolt were stripped down, which meant the wheel was shifting all over whenever it was pushed. We did our best to fix it on the fly, and said a prayer that we’d find a better solution once we reached town.

We pushed on, glad that we had found at least a temporary fix. A few miles later, we ran into one of our least favorite obstacles on road: dogs that aren’t tied up or fenced in. Even though we were out on the highway, we passed a house where two dogs came running right out onto the highway, barking and growling at us. The problem isn’t that we’re afraid of the dogs—they never attack us. The problem is that we don’t want them to get run over when they run out onto the road.

When Lindsie went to chase this dog back into its yard, she didn’t realize her cart was rolling into the ditch out of control. It crashed into a tree as she was catching it, so she pulled it out and we started walking again. About a quarter-mile down the road, she realized with concern that our GPS had fallen off of her cart during the crash. As a result, we had to drop everything and walk back down along the road searching through the tall grass to find our lost GPS. After 30 minutes of digging through grass, moving plants around, and praying we’d find our tiny, 2-inch by 3-inch electronic device, I finally stumbled across it (literally), and we were able to move down the road again.

Mike, Lindsie, Jaeda, and RockyWe pulled into Dixon around 1:00 p.m., dripping with sweat (again), exhausted from the hills (again), and with a broken wheel on Mike’s cart (again). The folks at First Baptist Church in Dixon welcomed us with open arms, which was a blessing. And then they went above and beyond in their blessings on us. For starters, Hollie, the church receptionist, was incredibly friendly, and she and the church pastor, Bobby, chatted with us for awhile. Then the youth pastor, Rocky, came in and we mentioned my broken cart wheel.

The Dawg House crewHollie and Rocky thought they’d have a solution, and they drove us over to the nearby auto/tire shop, Clark’s Tire Shop. One of their friends, Scott, offered to fix the wheel for us, and sure enough, 45 minutes later, our problem was solved (and once again, our prayer was answered). We were so, so thankful, because we wouldn’t have been traveling anywhere with a broken front wheel. Then, after my problem was solved, Rocky took us out to lunch at this delicious burger place called “The Dawg House,” which made fantastic burgers and even more fantastic fresh-cooked fries. Then they gave us each a Dawg House t-shirt! After that, Rocky drove us over to Split Ends Salon and surprised Lindsie by telling her the owner, Niki, wanted Lindsie to get a pedicure and foot massage. The pedicurist, Aleesha, did a fantastic job, and they also gave Lindsie a slight hair trim, which she was in desperate need of.

Niki and Aleesha (and Lindsie)Unfortunately, Lindsie wasn’t feeling the healthiest for a few days, and rather than making her try to walk 20+ miles with a swollen throat and stuffy nose, we decided to rest. During that time, we were continually blessed by the people in Dixon. Along with fellowship and conversation, a friend of Holly’s named Tracy brought us an always-welcome gift—new shoes. Tracy’s uncle, Dwayne, sells shoes and he was kind enough to donate a pair each to me and Lindsie. Tracy and her son, Hayden, dropped them off for us, and we were incredibly thankful.

That night, Hollie, her husband, Mike, and their two kids Alexis and Abygale, came over to hang out and serve us dinner. After dinner, we had an incredible night of fellowship. First of all, Mike wanted to bless me by washing my feet, which was a moving, spiritual experience. The prayer he gave was powerful, and the Holy Spirit was certainly moving in all of us. After that, Mike got oil and we anointed Lindsie and prayed over her for healing of her sickness. It was a truly amazing night.

Lindsie and the Shaugnessy familyThe next day, we decided to make at least some progress down the road. So we walked three miles to Mike and Hollie’s house. It was good to keep things simple, as Lindsie was feeling better but didn’t want to wear herself out with a long day of walking. After a delicious meal, we sat around and talked forever before going to bed.

The next morning we walked to nearby Jerome, where Mike had found us a vacation cabin owned by a friend where we could stay for the night. And because Jerome was only seven miles away, we were able to get picked up and go to church at First Baptist that same morning. The service was awe-inspiring. The pastor, Bobby, gave an amazing sermon and the entire church was moved and moving. And that’s putting it mildly. Lindsie and I felt so blessed just to be a part of such a spiritual experience. After that, we went out to eat with Mike and Hollie, came back to their place for a nap and dinner later on, and then went to Jerome for a night of sleep. The next day, we left the area to head toward Rolla, Missouri.

Pastor Bobby and his wife, Dianne, with Mike and LindsieBasically, the city of Dixon—and the members of the First Baptist Church, specifically—did everything in their power to make us fall in love with Dixon, and Lindsie and I agree that they succeeded.

And that is where we’ll leave off for now. We’ll be continuing to travel east as we head on down the road.

On a final note, since I’ve enjoyed sharing the verses I come across during my Bible studying, I wanted to share a new verse I recently came across. As usual, it applies to so many of the things that happened along our journey. The verse is Micah 7:7…

“As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.”

The road ahead of us...The Lord has heard our prayers during this walk, and he has certainly saved us when we needed help. This trip to Walmart and our fixed cart wheel are just the most recent examples of that. We want you to know that when you keep your faith in Christ (and wait confidently for Him to save you), you will be heard. And it’s a blessing to know that, and to be able to believe it with confidence.

Have a fantastic day. We’ll be back with another update soon.

-Mike and Lindsie

Saying Goodbye

Mike with Grandpa Jack (and Becky, Grandma Mary, Kelsey, Brooke, and Jake)As we mentioned in our last post, my (Mike’s) grandpa, Jack Billeter, wasn’t doing very well health-wise. Although we prayed for healing as his condition worsened, it seemed the Lord was ready to take him from us, and my grandpa passed away on Sunday, August 11th.

As sad as we were to hear the news, we were also concerned about whether or not we’d be able to attend the funeral. My grandparents (and most of the rest of my family) live in a smaller city in Illinois called Byron. Byron was about 7 ½ hours away from our location at that time; we didn’t have a vehicle (obviously), and walking there in time would have been tough/impossible.

Thankfully, God had things worked out for us. Mary, who we had stayed with back in Springfield for a few days, was willing to not only come pick us up wherever we were on the road, but she and her husband, Mike, were willing to let us borrow one of their two vehicles so that we could take it to Byron as long as we needed it.

We couldn’t believe how blessed we felt to know that was an option. And sure enough, as promised, Mary and Mark let us borrow a vehicle so we could travel up to Illinois. It’s amazing how God has all of the details figured out before we even know what’s going to happen.

We made it up to Byron the day before the visitation. Although it was a sad time, we were thankful that we could be surrounded by my incredible family—both my mom’s side and my dad’s side live in Byron—and that so many great people could come together to celebrate my grandpa’s life.

Trying to talk through thoughts and emotions in a blog post wouldn’t do it justice, but we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support we received from friends and family during our time in Byron. We feel blessed to have such a loving family in our lives, and we’re thankful that my grandpa had so many people who cared about him and loved him.

Even though it’s hard, we know my grandpa is in a better place. We’re just so thankful that God gave us a way to be able to come to Illinois and say a final goodbye. Even in sadness, God is good.

We have another “on the trail” update coming up almost immediately (probably tomorrow), but we wanted to post this for those who may have been wondering what happened with my grandpa based on the information in the last post.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers and support. They are appreciated beyond words.

God bless.

-Mike (and Lindsie)

Into Missouri (and Other Adventures)

Welcome to Missouri!As we finished up the last blog post, the Storming Jericho crew was making its way toward Fort Scott, Kansas. Fort Scott was an awesome little city featuring a fun downtown, a cool area dedicated to historic Fort Scott, and some other neat buildings and features. Most importantly (to us, at least), it had a church that had told us we could spend the night. So thanks to United Missionary Baptist Church, we spent a safe night indoors, even though it was raining off and on all around us.

The next day we got up and headed out for Nevada, Missouri (pronounced nuh-vay-duh), knowing we had a church to stay at there as well. Thanks to Pastor Bill Platt at First Christian Church, we were all set. We crossed from Kansas into Missouri (crossing another state off of our “walked-across” list) and arrived after a 20-mile day just as it was starting to rain again. Pastor Bill told us we’d be staying in their “other building,” which just so happened to be a former ALDI grocery store. It was a huge, open space that had showers and a beautiful kitchen, both of which made our stay even more pleasant.

We went to sleep that night and woke up realizing that our bodies were once again trying to force us to take a break from walking. We were both exhausted, and when Pastor Bill came by to check on us the next morning, he was kind enough to say we could stick around and rest for a day. Needless to say, we were thankful.

New friends in Nevada, MO

On top of that, some of the people in the church office wanted to take us out to lunch (which is an invite we rarely, if ever, turn down). Around noon, two of the church receptionists, Mary and Barbara, and the youth pastor, Dana, came to grab us for lunch. Dana was with Dalton, one of the church youth group members, and later Dana’s wife Tonya and almost two-year-old daughter Talitha came to meet us at the restaurant. We had enjoyed delicious Mexican food there and also had some awesome conversation with everyone. All in all, it made for a fantastic lunch.

Game night!

We walked our gear over to Dana and Tonya’s house and pulled into their carport just as the rain started coming down around us. Once again, God was kind enough to let us reach cover before the rain began to fall. We spent the afternoon chatting with Tonya, watching episodes of Barney—Talitha’s show of choice—and playing with Talitha while we waited for Dana to get off work. Finally he did, and pretty soon it was time for game night. Dana and Tonya’s friends Mike and Tracy (and Tracy’s son Jeffrey) came over, and we ate pizza, played games, and just had a great night of fellowship. I should mention, unfortunately, that the girls won the games that were played, but the guys put up a valiant effort.After we finished eating, Lindsie and I headed back to the church to work on a few things. We had a really productive afternoon, and then Dana and Tonya came back around and invited us to come stay at their house for the night. They were going to be having some friends over for games, and the two of them were just such fun people that we couldn’t turn down their offer. Plus, their daughter Talitha is one of the most adorable children ever. No one on earth could have said no to that offer.

The most adorable child ever

At the conclusion of game night, it was pretty much time for bed. Linds and I were going to be getting up around 5:00 to head out, and it was getting late. We went to bed and woke up the next morning bright and early only to discover that Lindsie had gotten sick over the night. As much as we wanted to make progress down the road, a 20-mile walk in the summer while you’re sick isn’t exactly a delight. Thankfully, Dana and Tonya, who had joked repeatedly the day before that we should just stay another day, were ok with us waiting ONE more day in Nevada. We had another fun day with their family—including a DELICIOUS barbecue dinner at one of the restaurants in Nevada—which really only made it harder to leave the next morning. But we needed to make progress, whether we wanted to leave our new friends or not.

The next morning, Lindsie felt much better and we knew we were ready to move on. It was a sad goodbye, but we knew we’d be keeping in touch with Dana and Tonya, so it wasn’t too depressing. We waved goodbye and started walking down the road toward El Dorado Springs (pronounced doe-ray-doe…).

And that’s how Lindsie and I spent our 3-year anniversary—walking 20 miles down a highway in Missouri. Pretty much exactly how I always imagined I’d spend my 3-year anniversary with my wife. Except not at all. It’s funny where God takes you when you let Him take control of things.

D'ette and LindsieAnyway, we had originally thought we had a place to stay in El Dorado Springs, but the pastor who we’d originally set things up with told us he was going to be out of town so his church would be unavailable. We sort of had to scramble, and thankfully we got an answer from D’ette at the Church of God Holiness. D’ette told us she’d find us a place to stay or, if that was unsuccessful, we could stay at her house. We were thankful that God had prepared a backup for us, and it turned out to be a perfect situation.

We made it to El Dorado Springs that afternoon and the sun was definitely shining. It was a warm day, and the humidity made it even tougher. We got to D’ette’s house just in time for her to scrounge up a fantastic meal of chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and corn on the cob. She apologized for not having something better prepared for us and we laughed at her because it was a fantastic meal.

We enjoyed talking with D’ette for a few hours, and then it was time for a side trip that Lindsie and I had looked forward to for months—we were heading back down to Springfield, Missouri, to visit some of our friends from when we lived there before. Lindsie’s friend Mary drove up to El Dorado Springs to snag us and bring us back to her house (complete with guest bedroom, swimming pool, and hot tub). We were excited.

Pool party at Mary's!The next few days went by quickly. We visited my (Mike’s) friends and former co-workers from Evangel University, we had lunch with Lindsie’s former co-workers at Assembly of God Headquarters, we had a lunch with my former co-workers at Deep Group and got to share some of our stories with the entire group, we had a pool party at Mary’s with some fantastic barbecue prepared by Mary and her husband, Mike, and Lindsie’s friend Jessica drove down from Illinois to see us…well…mostly to see Lindsie. We also just spent tons of time enjoying tasty meals with Mary’s family and having good conversation with everybody.

Lindsie and RhondaUnfortunately, throughout all of this fun and excitement, my grandpa had not been doing particularly well health-wise. After being rushed to the hospital, he was in and out of consciousness and the doctors were doing everything they could to heal him. While I was writing this blog post, he was still hanging on. We were thankful, but it also made setting back out on the road difficult because we really didn’t know for sure whether we should head up to Illinois where all of this was happening or just get back to our walk. Eventually we decided that, as long as he was stable, we needed to continue walking. All that is to say, we ended up staying in Springfield a day or two longer than planned, but we finally made our way back to El Dorado Springs in order to start walking again.

New friends in Collins

As if God wanted to let us know He still had other plans for us, we woke up the next morning to a pretty brutal thunderstorm that also happened to include flash flood warnings throughout the county. As a result, we spent our first day back on the road waiting for better weather at D’ette’s house. Eventually the sun came back out, but it was late enough in the day that it wasn’t worth starting out on the road. Especially when we had a 23-mile walk to Collins, Missouri. So we relaxed, worked on a few things, and waited for D’ette to get home. When she did get home, she made us a fantastic dinner and spent the rest of the night telling stories and sharing about her life. It was an absolutely delightful evening.The next day we actually did get up and start walking. We were a little sad to be leaving our new friend, but we knew we had still more places to go and other people to meet. We said goodbye bright and early and started walking. The weather was still looking menacing, but it seemed to be going well. At least, it seemed to be going well at first. After a few miles, the thunder began to rumble and we got to enjoy a walk in the rain. On the plus side, the rain was much more refreshing than the heat that came later in the day.

More new friends in Collins

By the mid-afternoon, we were ready to be done. Thankfully we were only a few miles away from Collins, Missouri, which is where we’d be staying that night. Some members of the Coon Creek Baptist Church were going above and beyond for us, offering showers and inviting us over for dinner that night. Thanks to Norman and his wife, Mary, and Justen, his wife Lesley, and their two kids Lily and Jackson, we had a really fun night. Along with the great conversation, Lesley made some FANTASTIC spaghetti, complemented by garlic toast, salad, homemade ice cream (for everyone but lactose-intolerant Mike) and chocolate cookies made using applesauce instead of egg (for egg-allergic Lindsie).

That night, Norman made us promise that if the weather was stormy the next day, we wouldn’t try to walk through thunder and lightning. Thankfully, when we walked out of the garage at 5:30 a.m., the weather was beautiful. The sun was coming up through the clouds and everything looked picturesque and ready for walking.

For about the first hour and a half. Then the storm moved up behind us and suddenly we were getting absolutely poured on. After hiding out in a covered church entryway in Weableau (about 6 miles down the road) for about 30 minutes, we realized we’d need to keep walking if we were ever going to finish this walk. We kept moving, and pretty much got rained on non-stop for four straight hours.

Lindsie with her cool shoe covers.

And after about the fourth hour, Lindsie looked over at me and said, “I’m tired of being soaked.” Rather than hiding out in the tent (which we would’ve had to do back in the desert), we called our new friend Lesley, who got in touch with Justen and Norman for us. After a short break, they came out and picked us up in Norman’s truck. It was fantastic to have a place to return where we could be dry and warm again. We had made it 11 miles that day, but we still had almost 12 miles to go before we’d arrive at our next stop, Pomme de Terre United Methodist Church.
We reached the church after a pretty tough day where the humidity picked up quickly. Linds and I were dripping with sweat when we reached the parsonage next to the church, but the pastor, Ellen, had been kind enough to leave a jug of ice water underneath the shade of the patio table on the back porch. While we waited for Ellen and her husband, Ron, to arrive home, Linds and I sat and sipped on cold water, thankful to be done for the day.Norman told us he’d drop us back off where we got picked up the next morning, so we decided to just enjoy the extended time we got to spend with Norman, Mary, Justen, Lesley, and their kids. The next morning was absolutely GORGEOUS and none of us had qualms about resuming our walk. After saying another sad goodbye to Norman, we pushed on using some back roads to reach Pomme de Terre United Methodist Church just south of Hermitage, Missouri.

Mike trying to stay dry (with bags on his feet)

Ron got back a little after we arrived and let us inside. We were thankful to be indoors and even more thankful when he offered us sandwiches, fresh fruit, and chips for lunch. We sat and talked for a while before Ellen returned home. With her was her friend, Patty, who happened to pastor the Christian Church in Hermitage. We talked for a few minutes while Patty and Ellen gushed over Jaeda’s cuteness and asked questions about our walk. Then Patty headed home and Ellen and Ron started to prepare dinner. We found out there would be nine of us there having dinner, and we were excited to meet so many new people. After showers and a little rest, people started arriving.

The meal was fantastic, and the conversation was even better. Although Lindsie and I shared quite a few stories from our journey, the group had plenty of their own stories to share as well and we felt blessed to be able to hear them. It’s always a treat to hear the ways God is blessing others, especially when it happens in amazing ways. Thanks to Ron, Ellen, Patty, Tim, Jo, Dick, and Jerry, we had a great night of fellowship and spiritual strengthening.

The Hermitage crew

The next morning we had to head out, but this post has already gotten far too long, so we’ll have to resume with another post in the very, very near future. There’s been plenty that happened since our time spent in Hermitage, so I’ll be hurrying to get the next update posted.

Also, since I enjoyed sharing the verses from Isaiah that I included in the last post, I thought I’d share another one that I read recently. That Isaiah guy sure knew what he was talking about. As the Bible tells us in Isaiah 54:10…

“For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

Sometimes it’s just nice to know that, no matter what happens in life, God is always going to be there for us (no matter which mistakes we make or which challenges we face).

Thanks for reading, and we’ll have another update here much sooner than later. Be blessed!

-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda

We’re (Almost) Not In Kansas Anymore

Kansas Skyline Well friends, after taking a short, 2-week break to attend and enjoy Lindsie’s little sister’s wedding, we’re back on the road again. Although a break is always nice, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t anxious to get back out and resume our journey.

After we left our new friends in El Dorado, we made our way toward Rosalia, Kansas. The weather was pretty dark and cloudy, and we weren’t surprised to feel some sprinkles coming down as we made our way out of town. Unfortunately, we didn’t have many options, because we were basically on the edge of town, heading toward the middle of nowhere. Then, as He so often does, God provided us with a place to go. A seemingly-abandoned restaurant on the very edge of El Dorado had a large, covered patio that seemed to be calling our names. Just moments after we pushed our carts underneath the roof, the rain broke out in full force. Thankfully, we were comfy and dry in our shelter, and Lindsie and I listened to an audiobook together while we waited for the rain to die down, which it eventually did. Then it was onward to Rosalia.

Thanks to our friends Josh and Kerri, we had a connection to the Methodist Church in Rosalia. Although no one was there when we arrived, Josh and Kerri’s connection, Linda, told us we were welcome to spend the night in the church basement, which we were thankful for. They had a kitchen, so we were able to make some dinner and have a quiet night to ourselves.

The next day we headed toward Eureka, Kansas. Although we called a few churches in town, we weren’t able to find anywhere to stay, so we ended up paying for a hotel room. Normally we’d just camp out somewhere to save money, but the weather forecast predicted storms that night and we decided we’d rather pay a little extra to be safe and dry. Sure enough, it rained and stormed throughout the night, which reaffirmed our decision to splurge on a hotel room.

Mike, Lindsie, Jake, and Joy ("Go Jackrabbits!" says Lindsie.)We left Eureka the next morning extra early so that we could make it to Neal, Kansas, in time for the Sunday morning service at Neal Evangelical Free Church. The pastor at Neal E-Free, Larry Evans, and his wife, Jo, were kind enough to let us stay the night at the church. We enjoyed meeting so many of the great congregation members at the Sunday morning service, and we (particularly Lindsie) were extra excited when one of them was a South Dakota State University grad with tons of connections to the South Dakota area. Needless to say, Lindsie wanted to spend more time getting to know Joy, and we were glad to accept her offer to take us out to lunch in town—town meaning back in Eureka.

We had a blast talking with and sharing stories with Joy and her grandson Jake, and after lunch she dropped us back off at the church in Neal so we could get some rest. After a few hours of relaxing and enjoying the air conditioning, we went to bed ready to get up and move the next morning.

Unfortunately, our bodies disagreed with that plan. Linds and I both woke up feeling like we’d been run over by a truck. At that point we really hadn’t taken a full day off in six or seven days (and it was starting to show). Thankfully, Pastor Evans was kind enough to let us stay at the church an extra day, which was exactly what we needed. After another relaxing day in Neal, we got the rest we needed and prepared for an early morning rise.

Lindsie and Pastor RussellWe met the sun on its way up and began pushing our way toward Yates Center, Kansas. Thanks to Pastor Russell at the Methodist Church in Yates Center, we knew we had a place to stay when we arrived in town. The day itself was fairly uneventful, but it was much, much warmer than we’d been hoping for. We finally got to the church, thankful that we’d be out of the sun for the rest of the day.

Because the parsonage wasn’t in use at the church, Pastor Russell decided to let us stay there. That was awesome, because it meant we had showers, a kitchen to use for dinner, a washing machine and dryer for laundry, and a bed to sleep in. It really doesn’t get much better than that.

Since the heat had beaten us up so badly the day before, we decided to wake up extra, extra early in order to beat the heat however possible. We set the alarm for 3:00 a.m. (yes, really) and were out the door by 4:15. The sun wasn’t out yet, but we used our awesome Petzl headlamps to illuminate the road in front of us and we made a good hour and a half of progress before the sun began to rise. We got rained on a little bit in the early morning darkness, but it was a warm rain and it was much more bearable than the freezing rain we’d experienced in the past. It was a little surreal walking down the highway getting rained on in the pitch dark, but it was an experience we both ended up enjoying.

Our next town was Iola, and we’d connected with the Wesley United Methodist Church in Iola beforehand. We got into town and arrived at the church thankful to be there, because the day was beginning to turn into another hot one. After getting down into the basement, we set ourselves up for a night of relaxation. Along with a kitchen, the church in Iola also had showers, so we were excited to be clean again, especially after the rain that morning left us sweaty and sticky once the sun came out. Interestingly enough, we later learned that the pastor at the church in Iola was the wife of Pastor Russell in Yates Center. We had no idea that was the case when we’d called, but I guess God knew where He was sending us.

Lindsie's family (mom, Lyn, dad, Tim, and sister, Brittany)

It was hard to sleep that night because we knew Lindsie’s parents were coming down the next day to pick us up for her sister’s wedding. Eventually we got some shut eye, and we woke up at 3:00 a.m. again in order to get as far down the road as possible before Lindsie’s parents arrived. It was another dark morning, but worth it to avoid the heat that was sure to come.

After passing a few small towns and making it about six or seven miles, we were surprised to see Linsdie’s parents, Tim and Lyn Page, much earlier than we’d expected them to arrive. On top of that, Lindsie’s sister, Brittany, had come down with Tim and Lyn to surprise Lindsie. Needless to say, there was screaming and hugging and more screaming and more hugging. Then we loaded some of our gear into the van and prepared to walk a few more miles before heading back home to South Dakota. After another five or six miles, it was time to load up the rest of our gear and make the journey home for the wedding.

Lyn's dog, Zoie, Lyn, and Brittany walking ahead of usThe wedding itself was a blast. It was a blessing to be a part of a wedding with two strong-hearted Christians like Brittany and her now-husband Grant Kuper. The two of them are going to be interns for CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ) at North Dakota State University next year, helping to mentor and guide the NDSU students who are involved in CRU, and Lindsie and I can’t wait to see how God continues to work in their lives, further transforming them into warriors for Christ.

Anyway, after the wedding was over, we said sad goodbyes to our families and caught a ride back down to Kansas from Lindsie’s uncle John, who was on his way down to Louisiana. After a shockingly short drive (we’re assuming John was driving faster than we realized…although we were sleeping most of the way, so maybe that was the cause), we unloaded our stuff where we’d last left off and started walking again.

Lindsie and her Uncle JohnWe’d planned to get all the way to Uniontown that first day back on the road, but our two weeks off had gotten us more out of shape than we’d realized. We hadn’t even reached Bronson before we were ready to call it a day. Thankfully, the Hope Chapel Assembly of God Church is located right in between Moran and Bronson off of Highway 54. After asking Pastor Tom and his wife Denise if we might be able to spend the night in the church, we were given a firm, “no,” which was a little disheartening. Then Pastor Tom smiled and told us we could stay in their Blessing Center next door to the church, which happens to have a bedroom, a kitchen, showers, and everything else we could have hoped for. Calling it a Blessing Center is sort of an understatement, considering how much of a blessing it was to us on that day. On a side note, the Blessing Center itself was actually paid for by the 700 Club back in the 1980s, which is kind of random and cool.

Lindsie, Mike, Denise, and Pastor TomThe next morning was cloudy and rainy. On the one hand, clouds are a blessing because they keep the weather cool. On the other hand, rain is always tricky because nobody wants to be soaked all day. Well we got soaked all day. It rained off and on, sometimes aggressively, for almost our entire 9-mile walk. But thankfully, rain in eastern Kansas in July isn’t exactly cold rain, so it wasn’t as uncomfortable as some of our rainy day walks have been. In fact, Lindsie never even put on her jacket because the rain was keeping her nice and refreshed. Eventually we made our way into Uniontown to stay at First Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Martin at the church wasn’t around, but he told us over the phone to go on in and make ourselves at home. It was a perfect place to get inside, dry off, warm up, and get a good night of rest, which is exactly what we did (after eating at the lone café in town, which makes a delicious plate of burgers and fries). Even though it was a small town, Uniontown was perfect for us.

Here's an armadillo we saw on the was trying very hard to sneak away (as you can see)

Up next on our route was Fort Scott, but I think this is where we’ll cut things off for now. We’ll have another update soon, though. Thanks so much for following the journey up to this point. And as I say almost every time, please don’t be afraid to let us know if you have prayer requests. We have plenty of time to pray for you, we just need to know what to pray for.

On a final note, I thought I’d close with a verse I read yesterday morning during my Bible study. It was encouraging to us as we walked, and I hope it encourages you. The verse comes from Isaiah, in verse 10 of chapter 41, and it says,

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Another verse I’d read the day before is one you might already be familiar with, but I’ll share it anyway, as it was also encouraging to us. That verse is Isaiah 40:31:

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

Feel free to run (or in our case, walk) knowing the Lord is by your side. He’ll give you all the strength you need.

Until next time, be blessed.

-Mike and Lindsie

A Life As Meaningful As Shamgar’s

Just as a heads up, the Storming Jericho crew has taken a short break in order to enjoy Lindsie’s younger sister’s wedding. We’re back in the Dakotas for another day or two, then we’re getting a ride back down to Highway 54 so we can hit the road again. As a result, this post isn’t a “from the road” update, but hopefully you still think it has some value.

The epic tale of Shamgar

A few nights ago, I was doing my daily Bible study and I was reading through the book of Judges. If you haven’t read Judges or aren’t familiar with it, Judges focuses on the Old Testament leaders of Israel who led Israel against various oppressive nations and rulers from the surrounding lands.

The general process of the book is that God would appoint a judge, he or she would lead the Israelites out of oppression, then, after a few years, the Israelites would forget about God and start worshipping other nations’ gods. Then God would allow oppressive rulers to take over again, the Israelites would whine and beg for help, and the process would start all over at the beginning.

Some of these judges are pretty famous as far as Biblical history goes. There’s Deborah (Judges 4-5), the only female judge mentioned in the Bible and a fierce warrior who led the Israelites against the king of Canaan. There’s Gideon (Judges 6-8), whose awesome name means “Destroyer” or “Mighty Warrior” and who led just 300 Israelites to victory against thousands of Midianites. There was Samson (Judges 13-16), to whom God gave superhuman strength as long as he didn’t cut his hair and who once killed 1,000 Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone, amongst other things. All in all, the book of Judges is filled with some impressive people.

Then there’s this guy named Shamgar. If you’re familiar with Shamgar, good job. If you’re not familiar with Shamgar, don’t feel bad. Why? Because Shamgar basically has one verse of his own. Many of the other judges have entire chunks of verses—if not multiple chapters—describing their feats, accomplishments, and in some cases, their flaws. Shamgar, however, basically gets a single verse describing his leadership as a judge of Israel. But it’s a pretty awesome verse.

“After [Ehud] was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; and he also delivered Israel.” (Judges 3:31)

To clarify, an ox goad is the stick that plowmen would use back in the day to encourage their oxen to plow the fields. Not exactly something you’d consider to be a weapon of mass destruction. But somehow Shamgar was blessed enough by God to kill 600 Philistines with a single stick.

The point of this post isn’t to tell you about a barely-mentioned judge from the Old Testament. It’s to bring up the fact that some people might read Shamgar’s verse and think of it almost like an afterthought. As if the writer at the time remembered at the very last second that he should throw something in about that Shamgar guy.

But the thing that has been stuck in my head for 2-3 days now is this: What if you only had ONE verse written about you in the Bible? What would you want it to say? If I look back on my life and consider what I’ve tried to accomplish so far to find what most people consider to be “success,” would any of those events and decisions be worthy of even a single verse in the Bible?

We may not go out tomorrow and slay 600 Philistines with an ox goad. (Frankly, we probably shouldn’t even try to…mostly because they don’t exist anymore, but also just because…)

But God does have big plans in store for every one of us. It’s whether or not we choose to act on those big plans that makes the difference. Shamgar did. If he hadn’t stepped up and done something insane and incredible, he might not have ever done anything worthy of mention in the Bible. Instead he fearlessly did what God commanded him to do and made an impact that is still read by people thousands of years later.

It may only be one verse, but it’s a verse that certainly says a lot about Shamgar and his faith in God.

Just a thought that I’ve wanted to get out for a few days now. It may seem odd to want to live a life like Shamgar, but it doesn’t seem quite so odd when you think about how being a little weird or crazy for God can make more of a long-term impact than we could ever imagine.


P.S. – I do want to clarify that Shamgar is mentioned ever-so-slightly in Judges 5:6, when Deborah sings, “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were deserted, and the travelers walked along the byways.” But in my opinion that’s more a description of the environment of that time than a description of Shamgar himself.