Days 1-10

Day 5: "Walking barefoot 'grounds' us on earth."

We imagine him as an unusually bright little boy, and surely he was,
 but that doesn't mean Jesus was somehow supernaturally potty-trained as a toddler.

-From Ch. 5 ("Bluntly Put") of Jesus Journey

As I read chapter five of my son's book Jesus Journey, laughing and reflecting on the fun and clamor of grandchildren and children in general, I thought about how the character of God so shines though.  Able to hang the stars in place, He could have created a different system of how to live here on earth.  Yet, Creator-God designed babies so that they have to be taken care of—they can’t do it for themselves. 

It is in this “caring for” that our bodies produce certain neurotransmitters that are so necessary for our own well-being. 

So, you may be wondering, what are neurotransmitters?  Basically, neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that transmit essential messages throughout our bodies: telling our lungs to breathe and our heart to beat, and also affecting things like mental wellness, sleep patterns, concentration, etc.

Incredibly, the effect of neurotransmitters is even at work in the animal world.  On our little ten-acre farm where we raise sheep and goats (Yes, the Sheppards really are shepherds!), our new mothers instinctively know to clean their newborns, licking them all over, nuzzling them, pushing them towards their milk bags. The baby lambs and kids know their mother’s voice immediately upon birth and respond to that voice. 

However, if for some reason the mother can’t nurse a new lamb,  we have to bottle-feed that little one.  Within a few days, the lamb is responding to us and running for their bottle and a human nuzzle.  Such lambs, even after they are weaned and in the pasture, still know us.  While all of our sheep “know our voice”, not all of the sheep “know us.”  Those gently and lovingly fed and cared for, however, will always come to us, expecting extra grain or a pat.

Their neurotransmitters, just like ours, respond to being cared-for. How carefully and brilliantly our Creator determined how best humans should live.

In the ponder/pray/practice section of chapter five, Trent suggests a "brief walk" as one way to practice the principles of this chapter.  Our bodies are designed to live in nature as a part of the incredible world and atmosphere that God created.  We were not designed for the tech-centric, computer-centered, screen-drenched, "positive ion" world that most of us live in daily. 

One would think that “positive ions” would be a good thing, but unfortunately they are not.  We naturally have “negative ions” and thus, negative energy, just as nature does.  And a “brief walk” outside in the forest, or even just outside in the sunshine or rain, recharges essential negative ions in our body.  This is one of the reasons why after you have been in the “tech” world for hours you feel so listless and feel like you have to get some fresh air.  That’s your body saying, “Help, you have overloaded me with positive ions. Recharge me!” 

If you can take that “brief walk” outside barefoot, even better! Think of it like this: We are living on a spinning ball, and while we learn to walk upright balancing on that ball, walking barefoot “grounds” us on earth, connecting us even more to the earth’s refreshing elements. 

Know that wonderful smell after the rain?  Or that wonderful feeling when you are outside just after the earth has been soaked in a spring downpour?  That’s nature doing nature’s job, not just for the earth, but for all of us—replenishing the planet, and replenishing its people.

A perfect plan for imperfect people.

Often times we cast away the wisdom of Biblical tradition, considering it irrelevant for the time in which we live.  However, in my seventy four years of living, I am discovering more and more that God's way is the best way, not just for my happiness, but also for my emotional, physical, and mental well-being. 

God's sleep-rhythms-for-humanity, eat-the-way-nature-grows-it, and respond-with-forgiveness-and-love way of living, not only produces contentment, it actually improves my body, and especially, my mind. So, if possible today, extend that “brief walk” into a long stroll and offer your mind the opportunity to understand more and more about how God designed us to live—neurotransmitters and all. 

Because "sometimes, the best thing for your spirit is to do something with your body, like taking a brief walk outside when you're feeling heavy in heart." (Jesus Journey, pg. 53)

Let's do this together, Lord. You lead—I follow.

Today's guest post is by Jacquelyn Sheppard—my remarkable, loving, and brilliant mother!  Her extraordinary book, Silent Takeover, is an important and genuinely insightful guidebook for freedom: "Jacquelyn Sheppard is the mother of three children who continue to amaze her and fill her with awe, even as they did when they were small.  All married now to amazing mates, she is the grandmother of eight amazing and awe-inspiring grandchildren. She lives with her husband, Glenn, on a small ten-acre farm where they raise sheep and goats, and spoil their grandchildren. Jacquelyn is the author of Silent Takeover: How the Body Hijacks the Mind—a book filled with fifty years of research and experience that unravels physiological reasons behind mental, emotional, and addictive disorders."

Photo credits: "nativity"—Stephanie Pekrul / "sheep" & "running with sheep"—Chelsea Hudson

Day 4: "God was crying with me."

Much has been said about Jesus’ relationship with his mother, and for good reason... Mary was an incomparable mom on just about every front! But I often wonder about the subtle ways Jesus’ relationship with his dad played out in his formative years.

Were Joseph and Jesus particularly close? Did they talk a lot, or was Joseph a quieter type of dad who simply enjoyed spending time building things with his son? And how old was Jesus when Joseph passed away?

“We don’t know exactly how or when Joseph died, but according to tradition, Joseph died in the arms of Mary and Jesus before Jesus started his public ministry. The specifics may vary, but most biblical scholars agree with that assessment because Joseph’s absence is so glaring in the gospel accounts after Jesus becomes an adult." (Jesus Journey, p.47)

Perhaps I’m particularly curious about all this given that I, like Jesus, lost my father before I feel like I really entered “adulthood.” I was 14 years old when cancer took my dad’s life, and I suppose it goes without saying that I deeply felt the absence of his presence in the years that followed.

I remember one particularly dreary evening a month or so after Dad died, when I was wrestling through my grief, which had recently taken a turn toward raw anger. I ran down the road from my house crying and yelling at God through the winter night, ignoring the falling snow on my face and asking indignantly: Why? Why would he take my dad from me? Why would he leave me so alone in such a formative period of my life, when I so desperately needed a father?

I beat the air with closed fists, and unexpectedly, a picture suddenly emerged in my mind’s eye: I was hitting God’s chest as hard as I could, sobbing and screaming at Him. He stood with his arms outstretched at his sides, exposing his heart and taking my beating... and He was crying.

God was crying with me.

When I became too exhausted and emotionally overcome that I could hit Him no more, I collapsed into His chest, His arms closing around me.

I don’t know how long it was before our tears subsided and I emerged from His embrace, but as I made the slow, chilling walk back home, I knew that a new trust had been forged between me and my Heavenly Father. He had offered no answer, but somehow knowing that he shared in my sadness was enough.

I wonder if Jesus had a similar moment when Joseph died. Did he run down a dusty road, tears rolling down his sweaty face, pouring out his heartache to God and questioning what it was all about? Was that one of the moments that Jesus realized, like me, that He actually had another Father who was there to share in His grief?

I’ve had many moments of missing my Dad since adjusting to life without him. The day I was married, the day my first son was born, the day we moved overseas... but I can’t imagine the depths of how Jesus must have felt on the cross as he suffered through a sluggish death and cried out, “Father, why? Why have You forsaken me?”

Was his loneliness especially potent because of the loneliness he had felt so long ago? Was his mind flashing back to the moment when his earthly dad died and he had found solace in his heavenly one?


I’m a dad of two young boys now, and I still try to take cues from the vague memories I continue to carry from my dad when I was a child. One of the primary lessons I will try to implement, all the more as my kids’ questions grow alongside their age, is how to loudly display my love and present-ness without always offering an answer.

Jesus demonstrated this artful balance when he wept with his friends over the death of Lazarus instead of immediately explaining himself, although surely he could have done so.

I like to think Jesus had learned this way of living from his dad(s).

Today's guest post is by Nathan Chud (aka "Beirut-Chud" in the book acknowledgements)—you can learn all about Chud and hear some of his amazing, original music at, which is where this awesome bio comes from too: "My last name is Chud, which coincidentally rhymes with 'stud.' I'm an educator and artist who writes about things that fill me with wonder (which happen to be a lot). I grew up in Alaska, where I naturally acquired that ability at a young age. I live in Beirut, Lebanon with my super-human wife (Marisa) and two young Chudlings (Lincoln & Owen). We're here plotting about how to offer similar wonder-filled opportunities to children from war-torn countries."

Photo credits: "boy and plant"—Edgar Buenas / "looking through" & "solo path"—Chelsea Hudson

Day 3: "The world we live in cares so much about reputation."

"Isn't he the handyman, Mary's son?"

—Mark 6:3

In chapter three of Jesus Journey ("Defending Mary"), Jesus defends Mary over the issue of reputation because of questions about his parentage. For me, defending reputation is not about parentage but about what school I went to and what degrees I have. Since working at a serious research university I can’t believe how much these things matter.

I grew up in a missionary organization with a bunch of hippies. There, reputation seemed to be much more about how many countries I went to and how many weird things I’ve eaten in my life. Here, in this world of degrees and fancy schools and who you know, I am so far behind it’s silly. I have my degree in basket weaving and graduated with just a bachelor's. I’m literally the brunt of the “did you get your degree in underwater basket weaving?” joke.

The research lab I work in is run by my husband who doesn’t have a PhD (gasp.) We’ve been told more times than I remember that we can’t make it here and that we shouldn’t be here because we aren’t qualified. We don’t have the necessary reputation. Nevertheless, we have work to do.

The world we live in cares so much about reputation. Whether it’s your parentage, or your past, or your status that our culture puts the most emphasis on, reputation is how we are evaluated.

Jesus wrestled with this same pressure. It bears down on all of us.  And like Trent wrote in this chapter, Jesus probably wanted to throw some punches at times.

I love reflecting on how Jesus responded to this reputation accusation.  "You are from your father," he tells his accusers in John 8:41, "the devil!"  His response is a play on words where the accusation gets thrown right back at the accuser. Jesus walked out with so much confidence that he defended his mother and then put the jerks in their place. (Is that even Christian? Wait… yeah, I guess so.) This is a pretty tough version of the meek and mild, perfect and stoic Jesus.

As I think about the work God has called me to, this kind of toughness is what I need. I’m glad I have Jesus in my corner to model how to live with that kind of confidence, that kind of strength to stand up for people around me and the power to confront people who try to make the world in their own image instead of God’s.

It’s exciting to see Jesus live through this same emotional landmine. He holds his ground but keeps his temper.

That’s what I need.

Today's guest post is by Sarah Gagnon: Living in Madison, WI for 20 years, Sarah works at the University of Wisconsin in a research lab with a mission to impact kids and adults with a sense of wonder—our team makes apps and games to bridge research at the university to the public ( I stay connected with friends from my time in YWAM by teaching in YWAM settings several times a year. As an artist and designer I love to work with an amazing creative team, but I’m even more lucky to be mama to Nora and Bear. Gardening, sewing, reading, yoga, drawing, and exploring the world with my kids are my favorite things. And the perfect cup of tea. (

Photo credit ("boy rejoicing"): Stephanie Pekrul / Photo credit ("stairwell): Chelsea Hudson

Day 2: "A communication style that only works in the closest of relationships."

Nonverbal communication accounts for most of what we say—our tone of voice, facial expressions, the look in our eyes, even our posture—and one of the real challenges in reading the gospel accounts is that they rarely include these sorts of nonverbal clues.

-From Ch. 2 ("Oh, Mother!") of Jesus Journey

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee.  Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.

The wine ran out. Jesus' mother came over to him. "They haven't got any wine!" she said.

"Oh, Mother!" replied Jesus. "What's that got to do with you and me?  My time hasn't come yet."

His mother spoke to the servants.  "Do whatever he tells you," she said.

—John 2:1-5

I always read the Wedding at Cana scene as a slightly tense exchange between Jesus and his mother, resulting in Mary asserting herself as parent and directing Jesus to help. 

I somehow failed to see beyond the text. 

The nonverbal moment Trent envisions between Jesus and Mary in chapter two of Jesus Journey changes the entire story.  I can absolutely relate—my husband Justin often jokes that my mother and I have whole conversations without saying a word. 

It's a communication style that only works in the closest of relationships.  What a beautiful moment to imagine between a son and his mother!

As Trent suggests, the hesitation in Jesus' verbal response could be rooted in his deep awareness that his journey as Messiah will ultimately lead him to his death.  Yet, Jesus agrees that this is the right time to start that journey.  

Taken together, this moment of mixed emotions, a critical part of the story of Jesus' first miracle, is a quintessential example of Jesus' humanity.

"Water is transformed into wine," writes Trent, "a wedding party in Cana is saved, and King Jesus begins his three-year journey to the cross, all of it turning on a silent exchange between a son and his mother."

Today's guest post is by Vanessa Fazio Pasquariello: Vanessa lives in East Boston with her husband and son, she's a parishioner of Sacred Heart Parish, and is also a vital part of the house church that Trent and his wife Bronwyn help to lead.  Vanessa works for an ad agency in Boston and serves on the board of ZUMIX, a youth arts organization in East Boston.  She's a big fan of The Beatles and all things New Jersey. 

(Photo credits: Chelsea Hudson)

Day 1: "I'll never be bored in the same way again."

All of life was important to Jesus because all of life is important to God...Regardless of what you do today—whether that’s writing a paper, planting a garden, preparing a work proposal, or parenting a child—what you’re doing is important to God because it’s part of being human.

-From Ch. 1 ("One Hundred Days") of Jesus Journey

After Day One on the Jesus Journey, I’ll never be bored in the same way again.

That’s a compliment. Seriously.

Jesus was a first-century carpenter; sanding by hand must have become boring at times. And Jesus living his life as a carpenter is part of the gospel. Why?

I’ve always chalked-up Jesus' blue-collar upbringing as an example of divine humiliation. Trent turns this way of thinking on its head.

Imagine that Jesus was a carpenter, not because he needed to find a humble job to fill some sort of suffering quota, but because God considered this ordinary human occupation good preparation for the King of kings, hand-sanding and all.

Chapter One of Jesus Journey helped me see that Jesus’ humanity is not proof that God pities us, but that He takes pleasure in us. Because of Jesus, all of human life has become a divine tool for crafting beings of unimaginable beauty and goodness.

For me, Jesus Journey has been about understanding that God became human not as a last resort, but because He wanted to be.  Ephesians 1:5 says it like this: “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”

This means, among many other things, that my “boring, ordinary” human life is not a waiting room or a test.  It’s a thrilling gift. 

And that’s Good News.

Today's guest blog post is by Luke Pekrul (aka "Léon-Luke" in the book acknowledgements): Luke is a husband, father of three boys, novice house-church facilitator, and community development worker in Nicaragua with SuNica. In all his roles, Luke sees his work as helping people love and know they are loved—by practicing Jesus’ Way together.

(Photo credits: Luke Pekrul)