“I am a product of long corridors,    empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books...”

C.S. Lewis

Since I’m writing this myself, I refuse do it in the pretentious 3rd person, and I won’t be a smidgen offended if you skim for highlights.

My name Is Don Shorey and I was born in 1964 into a family with so many remarkable stories – of experiences before my arrival – that I needed to hear them countless times, before I could clearly remember them myself.

I entered the world as Bill and Laura Shorey’s 4th boy and 6th child – born 6 years after number 5 – so I had the rare, doubled-pleasure of bustling about in a large family and then being an only child.

My Dad fought – unscathed, unafraid, and unrepentant – in a World War and arrived home to be suddenly, happily, and irresistibly captivated by the grace of God. Just over 3 years later he settled with his wife and newborn daughter in a fragile Japanese shack, at the beginning of nearly 20 years of announcing the good news of Jesus Christ among 100 million Japanese people – all of whom (back then) could walk upright under his outstretched arm. Among these polite, reserved folks, Dad and Mom relentlessly repeated the story of Jesus, while appearing – among the locals – to be blond-haired, blue-eyed Norse gods, gradually filling a small home with pale, happy redheads. Instant, dedicated, all-investing ministry happened much more back then; and it bore decades of eternal fruit in precious human lives across this planet.

Mom and Dad are now splendidly thriving in the immediate presence of the God they love, after 56 years of savoring their Lord and relishing their family in a 24/7 Christ-entranced life.

I first learned to think and believe, with my father (mostly after midnight) around the wood stove. I hated that wood stove and the 15 cord of wood transplanted from our woods to our basement every year to heat the rambling 42 room house/ministry-center that housed my youthful adventures and wanderings. Thinking back on that wood stove, with the benefit of nostalgia...I still hate it.

I first learned to wonder and to imagine, while wandering 40 woodland acres that were slashed through with stonewalls built 200 years ago, when all the trees of New Hampshire were sheared to grow rugged farms and build tall ships in Portmouth. When I wasn’t in the woods or mowing prairie-sized lawns, I was, like C.S. Lewis, “a product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books...”

The Lord’s sweetest earthly gift to me is my wife, Lisa. The life we share among our children and their families (more below) is a place of deep richness, refreshment and refuge.

Yes, I am a six-time grandpa. This is good.

The adventure of nearly 3 decades of pastoral ministry has been rich and revealing. So many textured and irreplaceable memories. So much still to discover and to learn. Even as we plow into a new season life with a creative vocational focus, we deeply value the joys and lessons and griefs and relationships of the places we have been, and we wonder how similar things may yet weave themselves back through the coming decades. Despite our many years now in West Chester, Pennsylvania, our life and ministry have deep, tangled roots in the rocky soil of New England and we uphold generations of faithful fandom – loyal to all New England teams (in the sports that matter).

From birth I was nourished with extraordinary food and the eternal story of God’s kingly glory, saving grace, and hilarious generosity. For 5 decades I have marinated in these truths. I have tested them and explored them and doubted them and tasted them and dissected the lives of people I want to be like – and the mammoth, irrepressible, Christian doctrines of God’s glory and grace and gladness in Jesus Christ have set my vision. Everything is all about Divine Affection, Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection: “Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be ’til I die.”

And because of the glorious Ascension of our Savior to a throne above all thrones, I am a generational, missional, historical (and even eschatological) optimist. If it doesn’t always seem like it, that’s because – like most people – I’m barely a theist when I wake up in the morning, until the Lord says hello, my mind begins to think, and I remember why it is good to be here (even though it would be better to be There).

If you linger near Enjoying Grace Story Co. you will read stories that tell you why I am so eager to pour much more of life into art and beauty and story and so many creational things. You will catch snapshots of a dad and mom and brothers and sisters and dear friends who nurtured a splendid blend of artistry, innovation, wonder, beauty, and good-thinking into my life and aspirations.

So now you know me. Not really, because I left out all the laughter around the table, the love story, the softball games, the conversations until dawn, the nails pounded into lumber, the magic of delivery rooms, and the songs sung in the sanctuary (and the car and the tub and the living-room and the haunted, college library). And all the amazing food. And lots of the other best stuff too.

For what it is worth, I gathered a B.A. in Biblical Literature & Languages at Northeastern Bible College in Essex Fells, NJ (now The Kings College in the Empire State Building), spending as much time as possible absorbing Dr. Chip McDaniel and Dr. Michael Bauman. My Masters studies were in Old Testament Theology & Hebrew at Columbia Biblical Seminary in Columbia, SC. All of this was woven through years of finding my happiest vocation within the walls of my own house and seeking to announce with passion the goodness of Christ and the pleasure of all that life can be, when we live on our King’s planet. 

"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."

Martin Luther

The Lord’s sweetest earthly gift to me is my wife, Lisa. The life we share together and among our children and their families is a place of deep richness, refreshment and refuge. I am a six-time grandpa. This is good.

My chief and happiest vocation for almost 3 decades has been right here within the walls of our home, and it is a wealth of satisfaction to see those who have grown up as part of this family establish their own homes and rapidly grow the tribe — with cheerful, beautiful little ones!

Our clan is closely-knit and shares a common and interwoven vision. We are together eagerly pursuing (or anticipating) closely-linked industrious and creative initiatives. We all share a passion to sustain a dream and a bigger-than-ourselves mission through creative, active, and care-giving industry. These pursuits already include (or will soon) a thriving photography business, graphic design, craft brewing, furniture and log-cabin building, brain injury nursing, together with my own art and writing and mentoring activities.

This section of our website will soon include fuller photos and descriptions of each of the families and industries in our family network. This page will probably grow to also include introductions of a few very close, family-like friends, who share this same vision and are growing with us to make up a creative and industrious community, that is shaped by the same eager productiveness and grace-filled vision and worldview.

In the meantime, here is a small album of family photos! (smile)

 

“I remember it as October days are always remembered, cloudless, maple-flavored, the air gold and so clean it quivers.” 

Leif EngerPeace Like a River

 

For as long as I have lived, I have been given no choice but to associate the aromas of a skillful kitchen, the glow of lamplight, and the bustle of rambling houses with a voracious appetite for truth, dialogue, laughter, living, the joy of the Lord and the hope of Heaven. The hours have surely added up to years – that were spent lingering around the table or crowding into the living room to talk and tell stories and travel along the conversational paths that trek through the stuff that makes real life tick.

For nearly as long as I have lived, I have dreamed of someday planting my life and my family in the midst of some well-worn estate, with porches that never end, rooms that tumble one into another, a library tinted with stained glass light, and a kitchen table that stretches across time zones. Here we would welcome inquiring students, heroic weather-worn missionaries, skeptics, a small herd of grandchildren, and pretty much…well, any of you that want to come. We will eat and drink and study and talk and sing and laugh and refresh ourselves for the journey by reminding each other of our destination and of the deep joys along the way.

This place of my dreams has been mentally crafted by living images of places I have been, places I wish I’d been, and places where I’ve actually lived in the undeniable reality of imagination. The Place is a magical hybrid of The Eagle & Child, Zion Hill Bible Conference, L’Abri, Saint Annes, the old baptist parsonage on Church Street in Merrimac, Massachusetts, and various journeymen’s stops on the roads of Middle Earth like Bombadil’s cottage, Beorn’s Hall, or the Last Lonely House at Rivendell. If you have never heard of some of these holy places, then you know all the more why I’d love to invite you to a place, that these and many others have birthed in my dreams and determinations.

Well, my desires are no secret to the Lord; so for the time being we will continue to learn and laugh and love and linger around the feast, in the golden glow of Shorey Hall on Cooper Circle.

*   *   *

In the 50′s and 60′s, the country estate in the photo above was a hilltop rest home in Northfield, New Hampshire, run by a genuinely kind-hearted, Miss Eastlack. In the 70′s and 80′s this extraordinary place, set at the top of Zion Hill Road, housed the Zion Hill Bible Conference and (expanded to 42 rooms) was visited by the most extraordinary teaching and Christian fellowship that I have ever experienced. Much of the year it was where I lived with my mom and dad and husky beagle – in a place big enough to hold a village. The blisters (driving nails), the sporadic bustling crowds, the aimless wandering, the tastes of heavenly worship, the books read in a thousand hidden corners, and so much else – were all good.

   "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." 

J. R. R. Tolkien

 

Dreaming and planning for my second-half-century (if the Lord wills) and believing that we may have the privilege, still, to build and inhabit an uncommon place — to extend and expand the rich fellowship and activity of the happy and bustling home that has been for decades our central occupation and calling. 

“The Thomas House” — we have tended to call it — would be a family home, a hospitality house, a gathering place, and the natural habitat of easy laughter and of conversation, without haste or excess propriety.

In this place (built among family and like-hearted friends, in a being-carefully-explored geographical location), there would be a village of family industries, a dash of amateur agriculture, the smell of wood-chips, and an attentive supply of good food and drink (a notable bit of it home-grown, raised, or brewed). 

The talking, writing, teaching, singing, strumming, worship, and creative media-making that would live in this place, would together craft the stories that our lives crave telling, with all the folks that veer from the road — inadvertently or intentionally — to enter that front door.

In atmosphere and activity, community and well-broken-in comfort, and even in look and landscape — we would love this Place to be a mix of the two places pictured above: the place that shaped me and my deepest affections and a place of profound historical connection. The first was formed and nurtured by my father and mother (Zion Hill Bible Conference) and the second (George Washington’s Mount Vernon) reminds me of my father every time I visit.

“It's lovely to be going home and know it's home. I love green gables already, and I've never loved any place before."

Anne (of Green Gables)

 

An image capturing a home or special place will become a treasure. This gift you can confidently give a parent, a grandparent, a child, a brother, a sister, a friend...nearly anyone who has had life fall and ripple out in one place or another. Tell me who it is — who might be described as "impossible to buy a meaningful gift for" who would not be affected — reflective and appreciative — of some place in their life, having been captured with flavor and beauty in a picture. The gift for the one who doesn't need anything but that has experienced so many things in very personal places.

My style is Realistic Whimsy and my unapologetic mission is to provoke the emotion, memories, and profound nostalgia that live inside of us in connection with the Places (homes, wedding locations, family vacation settings, churches, schools, etc.) that have been the set and stage for the lives that we have lived. I draw structures (both simple and complex), with an eye to portray them accurately at the very same time as I seek to inject into each portrait a touch of magic that infuses the picture with a sense of the warmth and wonder with which we see our own holy places.

You will never regret investing in the creation of memorable, expressive, skillful images of places dear to you or those you love.