Sheri Hunter and her husband Mannard had planned a madcap 120-day trip around the world via cruise ship once the children were grown and gone and they were good and old. Only, Mannard died suddenly in his sleep at 50 and Sheri was spiraling with grief. She was far from retired, and had no assurance she’d live long enough to fulfill their shared dream. Sheri decided it was time for this black woman to drop-kick fear. Her memoir, Daring to Live, chronicles her solo 65-day journey through Africa and Asia as well as nine other “dares” like skydiving and hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro with her friends, the Dare Divas, all while experiencing healing and love. It’s a grace to welcome Sheri to the farm’s front porch today…
After sixty-three days, on a cruise around the world, I had literally made a boatload of friends.
I had bonded with Tonya, one of the show dancers, who was a good fifteen years younger than me. We decided to tackle the Great Wall together.
“Oooh, that’s some mama of a hike,” Tonya said as we stared up at row after row of stone block stairs that seemed to be winding up past the clouds.
I sighed heavily, already feeling winded as I looked at the climb ahead.
“If the mountain don’t come to Mohammed, then Mohammed goes to the mountain,” Tonya said. We’d paid to take this journey, and we both really wanted to do it.
“Let’s gird our loins and get to it,” I said, laughing.
A few fit folks were already jogging past us.
“Hope they don’t break anything, running like they’re crazy up those steps,” Tonya said. “That would be awful.”
“Man, that would be bad.” I was genuinely thankful that for all the days I’d traveled so far from home, I had not become ill or needed medical attention even once.
Three hours into our hike, miles and miles of the wall still remained. With each picture I snapped of the breathtaking, mountainous view, I realized that although this journey was coming to an end, a new one—a fresh start—would be waiting when I got home.
On this trip there had been bouts of sadness, times when the walls felt like they were closing in, and I’d missed my late husband, Mannard, so badly that an outsider would have thought he’d passed away the day before.
But this trip also marked a turning point for me.
I was overcome with the assurance that God wanted me to keep moving forward even though Mannard was gone.
There would be challenges, sure, but God would be with me through it all.
Up ahead, I saw the tallest of the towers. I began to walk faster, racing toward it.
“Wow, Sheri! What’s the hurry?” Tonya said, picking up her pace to keep up with me.
“I have to get to the top of it,” I said. I was breaking a sweat but not breathing as heavily as I felt I should be. I was jogging with ease. “I want to pray there before I leave.”
Eight minutes later, I reached the base of the tower. I began climbing a series of tiny steps to reach the house at the top of the tower, but I tripped on a step and twisted my foot.
The narrow steps were so tight that Tonya found a way to get to the house much better—she crawled. “This must have been the torture section,” she said, inching her petite frame up the stairs and past where I was standing. “I can barely fit.”
I crawled after her and met her at the top. When I stood, I couldn’t catch my breath. The expansive view was intoxicating. As I turned 360 degrees to take in the landscape around me, the beauty and grandeur of the Great Wall overwhelmed me.
Tonya and I shared a celebratory hug, and I smiled—no tears, just happiness.
I stretched out my arms toward the heavens. And inside I whispered, Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.
That cruise was certainly a journey, and one I will never forget. I know that not everyone can pack up and venture out for sixty-five days.
This had been a door of opportunity the Lord had opened for me, and I walked through it.
Most times when I feel like the world is crashing over me and I need to escape outside my own environment, I can’t go on a two-month cruise to a destination of my liking. I need to utilize the resources I have and move toward my well-being.
The movie War Room showed that when being attacked spiritually, you can stand still where you are and fight the battle.
The title character, Elizabeth Jordan, was facing a disconnection from her husband, and her life was coming apart. What did she do? She used a closet in her home to commune with the Lord, and she went there regularly for time to pray, study, reflect, and nourish her soul.
In the military, a war room is a place where military personnel gather to strategize for a specific mission, equipping themselves to win the battle.
The same was true with Elizabeth—she was fighting for her family, she had the armor of the Lord, and she was set to win.
People in the Bible often sought solitude with God.
Even Jesus did. He knew that living on earth has its beauty, but there are also overwhelming pressures, burdens, and temptations that can sway us away from God and the life He wants us to live.
Jesus was fully aware that He would suffer and die on the cross, so that walk toward the cross was an enormous one. He was sacrificing His life for the salvation of the world, and it would be brutal.
Imagine facing that.
Even though He was fully God as part of the Trinity, He was a man with flesh. His soul, His spirit, needed the comfort of His heavenly Father.
Just like you and me when we go through the unthinkable, Jesus had to get His mind positioned for the journey ahead.
He went to the garden of Gethsemane, and there in solitude He communed with our Father and prayed for sustenance of the spirit as He moved toward the path of crucifixion.
That wasn’t the only time Jesus did this.
He regularly had special times where He got away.
Away from the world, people, and their problems, with His eyes solely on the One who held the entire universe in His hand.
If Jesus needed that time of solace, then we can see how we need it as well.
And we can find our solace in somewhere special in our home, out in nature, walking with praise and worship music, in our vehicles as we drive, or wherever we feel most comfortable and ready to be vulnerable with the Lord.
Wherever that may be, our Savior will meet us where we are.
“Being daring doesn’t necessarily mean jumping off cliffs or hiking the tallest mountains,” says Sheri. “It’s doing those things that are outside one’s comfort zone, and step by step pushing firmly, steadfastly past the thing that scares you the most,” says Sheri Hunter.
In her new book, Daring to Live: How the Power of Sisterhood and Taking Risks Can Jump-Start your Joy, Sheri speaks frankly about those feats that raised the hairs on her skin. Some were adventurous like learning to ride a motorcycle, and others were more day-to-day: having hard conversations, focusing on health, learning a new thing, facing mortality and leaning solidly on Christ through it all.
More than just a memoir, this empowering female travelogue pairs emotionally resonant, confessional storytelling with spiritual takeaways, challenging readers to engage fully in their own lives, surround themselves with friends who will support them, and face life’s challenges with courage and faith.
[ Our humble thanks to Baker for their partnership in today’s devotion ]