Thursday, March 11, 2010

Guest Blogger, Paul V, Stutzman

Join me in welcoming author Paul V. Stutzman as the guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Paul is touring blogdom through April with his latest release, "Hiking Through." He's here today to tell us the story behind "Hiking Through."

Is God still relevant in our lives? Does God see the struggles and trials many families go through? Does God have a reason for allowing his children to walk through deep valleys of despair? These are all fair questions.

Does God even have a place in today’s world? The leaders of our country don’t seem too interested in seeking God’s guidance in leading this country. Our school systems have tried to remove God from our classrooms. Wait–these two entities don’t seem to be working too well right now. Perhaps we do need divine guidance after all.

As it is for many of you, my life was rolling merrily along. My wife Mary and I had been married 32 years, we had three wonderful children and I enjoyed my job. Sure, like many of you I had house payments, college payments, and the usual job-related stresses. My world was suddenly turned upside down when my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although we did everything possible to fight the disease and believed that God could heal her, on September 7, 2006, she took her last breath and passed away. Either God had not heard our desperate cry for healing, or He had other plans for our lives.
I wanted to know why God put our family through this heartbreaking time, and my questioning led to a radical decision. For years I had dreamed about hiking the Appalachian Trail; and a little more than a year after Mary’s death, I decided to quit my job, shoulder a backpack, and hike close to 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine. My plan was to write a book about this adventure with a message for men not to take their spouses and families for granted.

As I hiked north, I began talking with God as if he was my hiking partner. Repeatedly, I would ask God why he took my wife from me. On Sunday morning, July 6, 2008, while hiking towards Eph’s Lookout in Massachusetts, I had an encounter with God that left me face down, weeping on the trail. God revealed to me why he took my spouse from me.

You, my friend, were also included in that encounter. You wonder how that is possible?

God asked me to include the message of that encounter in my book. I admit, I argued with God. I was certain folks would think I was crazy and the book would not sell. God’s reply was, “I’ll get it into the hands of people who need to hear this message.”

That encounter with God completely changed my life and set me on a path to healing from my grief. I pray that the message of hope brings you peace in this troubled time we live in.

Thank you Paul for guest blogging here today and sharing this touching story with us. "Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail" is Paul's story. A former restaurant manager, he is now retired and planning his next big adventure: a cross-country bicycle trip. Paul currently lives in Berlin, Ohio. To see pictures of his hike or to find out more about him and his book, visit his website at


  1. Paul, Wow this is powerful. You are not alone in that you questioned God. I have a feeling when I read your book, I will be shedding some tears along with gleaning some wisdom. I have been very interested in the Appalachian Trail for years - not that I'm brave enough to travel it.

    Mason, Another great interview.

  2. Mason - Thanks so much for hosting Paul.

    Paul - I used to hike on the Appalachian Trail when I was young. It is a stunning place, and I'm not surprised that you found some peace on your travels. I am sorry for the loss of your wife, but I am happy for you that you've found purpose and peace in your life.

  3. What a strong and moving post, excelelnt guest blogger.

  4. I am SO moved by your story. I've hiked a tiny portion of the trail and if there is a place to meet God, that's it. Thanks for sharing and I'm going to buy your book!

  5. Those are some difficult questions Paul brought up!

    I like the idea of addressing problems and faith through trekking the Trail...thanks for the introduction to Paul.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  6. Paul, it took incredible strength to write this book!

  7. Wow. I am so sorry for your loss. And so grateful you found your answers. There's something about going out of our comfort zones that leaves us vulnerable and open to finding God. In my memoir I talk about wanting to die while driving thru the Mojave Desert. And I, too, received a powerful message from God. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and strength. The book looks wonderful. Thanks, Mason.


  8. Paul, thanks so much for sharing your book with us and how you came to write it.

    Hi everyone, thanks for dropping by and hope you've had a good day.

  9. This post made me cry--a very sad story.

    My name is Mary too, and I have always wanted to hike the Appalachian trail--I hiked the Northville Placid Trail in NY and parts of the Colorado trail and parts of the Appalachian trail, but never the whole thing--which is what I wanted to do--now I have fibromyalgia and probably never will. This would be an interesting book to read.

  10. I think I AM brave enough to walk the trail. Considering I did the other trails solo, and end to end on NVPT, I am not afraid. But I can hardly walk some days.

    I learned a lot walking the trails. And I had a few conversations with God myself.

  11. Paul, this is a book after my own heart. May God bless you with great success with it.

    Marvin D Wilson


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.