The ship dipped and sprayed. Water gusted against the sides, foamy and white. Though she was gaining speed, the last of her sails were being unfurled, running rigging pulled tight and laid over the pins. With easy foot placements, Haakon descended the few meters down to the crow’s nest. In the distance the water glittered with sunrise, and on both sides of the narrow fjord rose steep mountains of slate gray and snow-capped white. The wind was ruthless, and as stunning the view, Haakon would much prefer being on deck, pulling in lines to keep from freezing.

At the very end of Sons of Blackbird Mountain, Haakon Norgaard sets sail on an all new adventure. One all his own.

As the youngest of three brothers, it’s the first time he is ever outside of their shadow—a freedom he’s certain he’s ready for, yet many lessons and matters of the heart await him during Daughters of Northern Shores.

As an author, I contemplated early on what Haakon might do, or where he might go with his freedom. As a restless soul, and adventurous spirit, it just seemed that the sea was calling his name. To be able to write his sea-voyaging chapters were equal parts delightful and challenging. Delightful because of the magic and the power of the ocean. Being able to describe it, and this young man’s time there . . . the way the open waters season his restless spirit was one of my favorite aspects of the book. And yet it also proved to be the greatest challenge as I scoured over research books, articles, and even sailor’s diaries to accurately portray life aboard a sailing vessel on the North Atlantic ice trade in the late 1800’s.

I hope that as you experience Haakon’s time at sea, that you not only see the changes that happen within this man—the heart-growth God has planned for him—but that you experience the freedom of adventure as well. Right alongside him.

The frigid waters of the North Sea.

Lost winds off the coast of Africa.

The tropical warmth of a Caribbean sunrise.

Such places to go and to see. It is my hope that for readers, by seeing this beautiful earth from an all new vantage point alongside this prodigal son, that such vistas might bring to mind the wonder of God, His majestic creation, and the incredible way that humanity was meant to explore it: to be connected to, challenged by, and changed among it. I also hope that as each of you experience Haakon’s time on dry land, that his growth from a headstrong young man to one of continued maturity and sacrifice will be an encouragement to those who have prayed for a loved one who has wandered into the great unknown, or who faces an uphill climb or battle.

It is my hope and prayer that Haakon’s story, though it be wild and raw at times, will speak into the journey that the Lord provides: the road is not always smooth, nor the waters always calm, but God is always with us, refining us amid the unknowns. The Lord has a plan, extends His provision, and will see us through to the very end.

As Haakon voyages across new waters, and as he walks familiar woodlands and paths, may his story, and that of the Norgaard family, be one of hope, love, and life—inspiring you as it has me, and painting a picture of the rest and safety we have in God’s perfect plan, even when the journey is far from smooth, and the trials are far from simple.

To God be the glory in these stories, in those to come, and much more importantly, in our lives and those around us. Thank you, dear reader-friends, for being a part of this series and for taking the Norgaard family into your hearts and giving yet another tale not only wings . . . but heady winds in eager sails.

Haakon kept an eye on the mainsail as it held the wind that bore in with a will. If it stayed fair, they’d make it in and out of the Caribbean before hurricane season began in May. Then it could be a straight shot to the coast of North America. From there just a train ride home.

Should a man want to do such a thing.

Haakon glanced to the horizon. He doubted the rise in wind had anything to do with his prayer, but then again, maybe God was trying to get his attention all the same.

What is a lesson that God has been teaching you in this season of your life? Has there been a verse, or words of comfort from a loved one that have been an encouragement along your own voyage? Please feel free to share in the comments and I would love to be praying for you this week.