Hiking Toward Home » Hiking In Grace & Capturing My View

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“It’s a very good place to start, when you read you begin with A-B-C when you sing you begin with…”

So how many of you read that title and had a familiar melody pop into your mind?

I’ve been a Sound of Music fangirl as long as I can remember.

If I had said this title out loud at my house several voices would have finished it in song. I love that my kids enjoy classic musicals and modern broadway too. I love that they have a taste for all sorts of music not just one genre.

My daughter and I recently went to see Wicked… but that is a story for a whole other post. 

A few posts ago I shared with you my future hopes for this space. The more I have thought about it, the more I think I should start at the very beginning of my story; because without the foundation of my story my journey back to art would make little sense. Why a journey back to art?


I have always liked to do art.

I remember a very long time ago, honestly can’t remember how old I was, I just remember that it was probably before I began Kindergarten, my mother set up a little table in our kitchen and gave me some paint and a fold out picture that almost covered the top of the little table I was working on. I remember it being Jack and the Beanstalk. While Mom scrubbed woodwork, I painted. I loved it!

The Arts were always my favorite subjects in school. Art class ran equal with music class. I wasn’t too great with the other subjects. I lived for Art and Music. Every year, in every grade, my music teachers and art teachers were my favorite people.

I remember in 4th grade having drawn a self-portrait I was so proud of. I remember looking at it stapled up on the bulletin board and my fourth-grader-self thinking that it was one of the best pictures I had ever drawn and thinking it actually looked like me. I knew my mom had it somewhere so I called her up and asked if I could have it. (Sorry Dad.) My poor dad ended up digging through lots of  boxes in the attic but his day in the cramped attic was successful and now I can share with you one of my first “I liked what I did” pictures.



On the opposite page of this portrait was my life story, written at the ripe old age of 9.



“I love art also I hate school.”

Interesting, I don’t remember liking Science class. And I know the line about “liking ALL my teachers so far” was a bold-face lie, but do you write that you hated your 3rd grade teacher when she is still teaching in the room next door? And is likely to read what you’ve written?

I had to blur some stuff out because, believe it or not, my mom still works at the same place she did 35 years ago. She’s never worked anywhere else. Job longevity like that now-a-days is almost unheard of!

And I’ve written about the friendship with that adopted girl from Binghamton, New York before.

I ended up traveling several times to Europe since my Aunt and Uncle and cousins lived there. When I was older, I appreciated being dragged all over Europe so much more than I did in 5th grade when I went on my first trip to Europe. And that is also a story for another post.

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When the children of Israel originally went down into Egypt is was for a good thing. God sent them there to save them from a famine that was coming. What began as a blessing of rescue from famine degenerated into a life of bondage and oppression.

God heard the cries of his chosen children and sent deliverance through a human instrument named Moses. He used Moses to lead them out of bondage.




When I first came to Christ it was at a small country church and originally was a good thing. God sent me there to rescue me from His judgment that was coming. But just as the children of Israel, what began as a blessing of rescue degenerated into a life of bondage and oppression. Man’s opinions were cloaked and preached as though they were God’s doctrine. In a word, Legalism.

Also, like the children of Israel, He heard the cries of his child.

He heard my cries. I am His chosen child.

I knew I needed deliverance to get out of where I was and I asked God to send someone. I asked for God to send me someone who could lead me out of my mental bondage that resulted from spending years in a legalistic system. I pleaded for a woman who would be a mentor and a friend.




And you know what?

God answered me.

Several different unrelated people gave me the same woman’s name. 

You can’t deny that God was at work.

God sent a human instrument, a Moses, to lead me out of my bondage, a bondage of clinical depression that resulted from legalistic thinking, and there was no mistaking it.




You know what was so wonderful about knowing that she is exactly who God sent?

I could trust her completely because in trusting her, I was trusting God.

It made hearing hard words and taking advice so much easier. It removed fear, doubt and questioning of motives because I could trust that she was there to help me not hurt me.

What a relief!

Is there something you need to be rescued from?

Ever think of asking God to send you someone to guide you through it?

Ask God to send you a Moses.

He will.

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Moses fled from Pharaoh through the desert not knowing he would do it again one day while leading a million or more people.

When you’ve travelled a certain path, you are able to later lead others down that path.

When I was a little girl, my dad would lead our family up a mountain in Virginia called Old Rag.

I grew to love that hike.




Little did I know I would one day lead a few friends over that mountain.

It was an easy for me to lead them because I had done it many times in my youth.

(Although the ending of that particular trip was rather difficult but you can read about that escapade HERE.)




A few years ago my husband and I hiked a trail we never thought we would.

Leaving our home church.

The place where I received Christ.

The place where I grew as a Christian.

The place where we surrendered to full-time service.

The place where we spoke our wedding vows.

The place where we brought our children before the Lord when they were born.

The place where my husband baptized my mom.

The place where my dad was baptized while I was on the mission field.

It was one of the hardest things we have ever done.

To leave a place you love and people you love and you are forced to walk away feeling the deep sting of rejection.




Though it was difficult, I can now see a bigger picture.

Not only did we need to leave to grow in grace but we also were being sent away by God for a future purpose as Moses was.

It is the same for all the difficult trials God allows us to pass through. The hike through our valleys opens doors to minister in ways we never can foresee.

Moses didn’t just lead the people through the wilderness.




He walked with them. 

When we emerge from our valleys we are equipped to sit with the broken and listen and empathize, having truly felt the same hurt. To speak words of Truth and encouragement to those whose hearts ache while they walk the deep dark of their valleys.

In the after, it makes sense and we can now see the good and the hand of God a little more clearly.




Is there something difficult you have been through? Are you able to see how God allowed it so you could reach out and walk through it again later with someone else?




If you are walking through a difficult time now, give it to the Lord and ask him to help you see the good and not focus on the bad, so that one day you may be able to lead someone else out of that valley you are currently hiking through.

Prayer requests? Share in the comments or email me through the “contact” link in the menu bar above. It will be prayed over.

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  • momMarch 27, 2015 - 3:11 PM

    Dear Sharon,

    This is where you shine! This is a great one!

    Love you,

  • LisaMarch 27, 2015 - 3:50 PM

    Lovely!Hugs, sis!xxReplyCancel

  • SteveMarch 27, 2015 - 4:04 PM

    Wonderful post!ReplyCancel

  • NormanApril 5, 2015 - 9:42 PM

    I have in my later years tried to look at life’s trials and tribulations positively, but never from this perspective. Very good food for thought. While I have shared my experiences to try and help others through trying times, or lead them as you say, I never thought about it from this angle. More reason to praise God for his wonderful lessons. No matter how hard or difficult.ReplyCancel

Hiking Toward Home was a birthday gift to myself.

At the time, I was seated in a foreign coffee shop with my latte and my laptop and inputting blog name ideas in the Google search engine to see if the one God had given me was taken yet.

I was so relieved to find it wasn’t.

Of course it wasn’t.

I had prayed and God gave me the perfect name just like He did for each of my other four babies.

There I sat. Alone. In a coffee shop, amid chatter I could not understand, internally squealing with glee.

And Hiking Toward Home was born.

That was six years ago.




One international move, two stateside moves and three dogs later here we are.

In the beginning, I blogged to have an outlet and to have a way to share what we were up to with family on the other side of the world.

I was inspired by Emily P. Freeman of Chatting at the Sky to blog about unwrapping gifts from God that were hidden in my week. Tuesdays Unwrapped.  I wrote about dirty boystoddler toessledding, and rats.

I also wrote rather cryptically in first few months of blogging about hiking trails in the dark. Being careful to not say too much about our situation and how other people’s choices affected our family. Now that it has been a few years I can reveal that the day I began Hiking Toward Home was not only my birthday but also the day the decision was made that we would be leaving the mission field and heading back home.

To what?

We didn’t know.

We just knew that it was time to move forward and that meant leaving the mission field.




The ministry, Liberty In Christ Baptist Church, we planted still continues to grow through the Lord’s provision and leading, with Pastor Jong Jong still at the helm. The blue canvas top has become a building. It is now solid cement walls and glass windows and tile floors (the following photos are actually a bit old). The church now looks more like this:




Flashback Fridays, back then hosted by my blog friend Jo, of Mylestones, became a fun way of sharing the past with the present and I wrote about darkrooms, and about what develops in darkrooms, and washing machines. Jo has since moved on to All Seven Seas.

In 2010, I went to my first blogging conference for Christian women.

Back then it was called Relevant and I have attended every year since and am looking forward to going again this year. I made some bloggy friends in real life and several of them were very supportive when my husband and I went through a deep valley ministry-wise. The conference is now called Allume. (More on that in another post.)

After having met Ann Voskamp, of  A Holy Experience, at that conference back in 2010, my unwrapping gifts on Tuesdays morphed into Gratitude Listing on Mondays. Though here on Hiking Toward Home seems to fizzle at 1925, I did list up to 2000 and as my gratitude journal fell apart, the cover no longer holding in its contents, I moved onto just keeping track in my regular journal amid the daily entries and devotionals.

This blog has become a place to share my art, my painting and my photography, as well as my words and I look forward to sharing more about my journey back into ART with you in future posts.

For now here are some feathers for your day.












Thank you for hiking down this memory lane with me as I look at where I’ve been and forward into the coming year. Click around the links and peruse the past (and dare I say leave a trail of comments behind you?) I appreciate every one who reads along and treasure every comment left like pebbles along a trail to remind us of where we’ve been… or to let me know where you’ve been.:-)They are great pushes of encouragement as I often need a shove or two for confidence to keep writing.

Thanks for being here.

Much love to you all.

Hiking in His Grace,


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  • DanielleMarch 16, 2015 - 12:28 PM

    I loved reading about how Hiking Toward Home was birthed, and walking through the years with you. Even more so, I love seeing Hiking Toward Home in my inbox as much as I have lately!ReplyCancel

  • MarleneMarch 16, 2015 - 3:15 PM

    Happy birthday! A great time to look back at memories of people places and things God has used In your past;ReplyCancel

  • MarleneMarch 16, 2015 - 3:17 PM

    As well as a great time to dream of the people places and things God has in store for the coming year! Looking forward to all He will use to shape your future, one day at a time!ReplyCancel

  • LisaMarch 16, 2015 - 4:54 PM

    Thanks for sharing how it all began! Looking forward to reading more!ReplyCancel

  • Konee RosasMarch 16, 2015 - 11:24 PM

    Happy birthday! I am so happy for you, God is so good. Looking forward to more of your art, paintings, photography and words. Regards to Pastor Bryant and the kids. God bless :)ReplyCancel

    • Sharon WootenMarch 24, 2015 - 1:30 PM

      Thank you Konee. We miss you all tremendously.ReplyCancel

  • Dixie shewmakerMarch 17, 2015 - 12:45 PM

    Happy Birthday, Sharon. I enjoy following you along on your hikes. another women’s retreat at Eden is in another week– and I recall it was there at another retreat I first met you and I still miss you. God bless you and continue to give you His peace and love throughout this coming year.ReplyCancel

    • Sharon WootenMarch 24, 2015 - 1:32 PM

      Thank you Dixie! Yes it was at Eden that we met. I am glad I have been able to keep in touch with you through the years.ReplyCancel

  • […] A few posts ago I shared with you my future hopes for this space. The more I have thought about it, the more I think I should start at the very beginning of my story; because without the foundation of my story my journey back to art would make little sense. Why a journey back to art? […]ReplyCancel



My friend Holley has written another book and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I needed to read it.

It has come at the most perfect time in my life.

This book has spoken to my heart so much in the last few days.

It was definitely a God-thing for me to read it.



Holley’s words are comforting, assuring and encouraging to those of us who tend to do battle with perfectionism on a regular basis. Her sweet, easy-going, and caring personality shines through the pages of this book.

I love that it has a whole study guide right in the back of the book which is thought provoking for individual reflection and is great for anyone who would like use it in a group study setting.

I got so much out of this book I plan to write several posts about how this book spoke to where I am in my hike with Christ right now.

It spoke to my past issues of being ruled by legalism and trying to fit into someone else’s mold.

It also spoke directly to my journey back into Art.

Go read Holley’s latest book, You’re Loved Now Matter What, Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect.

It will be worth it.

(You can find it through most all of your favorite booksellers; Amazon, Barnes &Nobles, Lifeway, Family Christian Bookstores, and DaySpring to name a few. Holley’s publisher sent me a copy of the book free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion and review of the book.)

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  • Pastor MikeMarch 13, 2015 - 9:14 AM

    Please do share! Would love hear some encouragement in a world that is surrounded by discouraging stories. Love all the shares!ReplyCancel

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