Ever hear a story that just speaks to you in a big way? That just happened to me. Seriously. I was writing a blog this morning about something completely different, but felt the Lord nudging me to write something different. I had no idea what that something different was, so I spent some time asking  Him to show me what I should write. As I was scrolling through Facebook, still completely clueless as to what I would share, I came across a very special news story. It touched my heart…and on a day in which I have been especially mindful of my dad’s health issues. On a day in which I have been lamenting the fact that my dad may not be around to do all the things I had planned he would do…

God, Dad needs to continue being the Bible teacher for our kids. He guides their little hearts and teaches their minds so well! He stood before my husband and me on our wedding day, leading us to say our vows, reminding us that Christ is everything. He did the same for my sister and her husband. He needs to do that for all of his grandchildren. Dad baptized all 10 of those grandchildren. What about his great-grandchildren? He needs to do that, too! Lord, what about our ministry? Dad is our fearless leader, dreaming big and bringing us along for the ride. He needs to be here, continuing in that work for you. 

I never imagined my future without my father…until his diagnosis.

My dad has always taught me to trust the Lord. He has shown me with his own life that we have a God who is completely sovereign and completely good and completely faithful. Yet, I find myself bargaining with our sovereign, good, faithful God. I just want my dad around for a long, long time. And, before you ask, yes…I know our Lord has power over any illness and can heal his lungs in a heartbeat. But, long, long time does not seem to be in store for Dad.

Enter this news story. I have no idea how old this story is. It might very well have spread and this boy became an overnight internet sensation 10 years ago. All I know is it’s new to me and it is a sweet, loving reminder from the Lord to my heart today. It goes something like this…

One day, Logan, a 13-year-old boy who lives on a ranch in Nebraska called in to one of his favorite radio stations (KSBJ Christian radio). When the DJ answered, Logan spoke up:

“I want to tell you something that God just told me. Last night my dad was roping this calf. And, this calf had been born from a really old cow. She didn’t have the greatest milk. She didn’t have the Vitamin C and stuff. She broke her back and this morning I went out and put her down myself. ”

It’s here that Logan begins to cry. You can hear his voice crack, sniffles and a sweet, soft change in his tone.

“I was talking to God and I was I was asking God why? She was special. And God said, ‘You know, Logan, my Son was special, but He died for a purpose.’”

It was here that I began to cry.

Logan continued, “That calf was close to me and God’s Son was close to Him. I just wanted to tell you guys that that is so important. Just remember when you lose a loved one or a pet…always remember that God gave His Son, too. And He understands. He will always understand. He will always. Just run to Him.”

That is some serious wisdom. And, the Lord saw fit to use a 13-year-old ranch-boy’s words to remind me that He understands how I feel.

Right now, for our ministry website, we’re working on the story of Lazarus, so I’ve been sitting with that portion of Scripture for several weeks. There is so much to be gleaned from that day, but what I sit with in this season of life is that Jesus saw the tears of His friends and it moved Him. It moved Him to tears. He felt their pain. He understands.

I don’t know what you’re experiencing today, but I pray that Logan’s words will touch your heart as they have touched mine. May we be a people who know that God understands. May we be a people who run to Him. May we be a people who raise up a next generation who know and do the same!

dad1 dad2 dad3 dad4 dad5 dad6 dad7 dad8 dad9 dad10

I’ve been married to Brian Shultz for 21 years. Year #2, he became a coach. He’s been a coach ever since (minus one year when we were working at getting our family ministry going), which means I’ve been married to Coach Shultz for 19 years.

I can see how you might be intimidated by him.

I can see how you might be intimidated by him.

He has a lot of experience on the pitch (for those of you who aren’t into soccer, that’s the playing field). When I have a question about off-sides or about a certain call by a referee, I know who to go to. And, although I played every other sport growing up, I have become quite the expert (almost) on futbol.

But, I digress.

For those of you who don’t know my husband, let me give you a quick rundown. This man is a man’s man. Seriously. I fully expect him to do the Tim-the-Toolman-Taylor grunt every time he rounds the corner. When he’s deep in thought, he comes across as extremely brooding. He’s been known to intimidate a worship pastor or two – just from walking down the center aisle at church with his broad shoulders and monster calves. In fact, he once had to pull a man who weighed nearly 500 lbs. from his van to the side of the road in order to perform CPR. Coach Shultz is strong. He’s courageous. He’s authentic.

For those of you who don’t know my husband, those of you who only see him on occasion, the list may seem to end there. But, he is so much more. For as intimidating as he can seem, he has a tender heart. He’s hilarious, but doesn’t play around when it comes to serving others. He’d give the shirt off his back – to anyone. He’d give the sweat of his brow – for anyone.

You might think this blog is about Coach Shultz, but it’s not. I just wanted to give you a glimpse behind the scenes as I tell you a story about one of Coach’s sons, his love of soccer and God’s grace. :)

Jacob (Jake, Jakie, Jayman) is that son. He’s 8 and has been kicking a soccer ball since before he could walk. As our youngest of 6 children, Jake’s not afraid of much. You’ll hear him high-pitch-squeal at the sight of a spider, but that’s about it. Years ago, he started standing in front of a goal, calling for brothers and sisters and friends to kick the ball at him as hard as they could. Craaaaazy!

Jake's the littlest one. He's always been a bit crazy.

Jake’s the littlest one. He’s always been a bit crazy.

At the age of 3 or 4, Jake announced he wanted to be a goalie in the World Cup. So far, he’s not wavered. That’s still what he desires to be.

jake in goal

Even at the age of 5, he’d come out of goal to face an opponent.

Over the summer, Jake went to his very first “try-out”. After watching all the boys for a few days at this try-out, B (Coach Shultz) came home and told me Jake was in the top of the group in terms of hustle and attitude and effort. He was in the bottom of the group in terms of skill. Ten minutes later, Jake walked in and told me he had a blast and… “I was probably one of the top three players.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of this. He didn’t say it in a “punk” kind of way. Just very matter-of-factly. What do I do with that? I knew who to talk to. Coach Shultz.

“Did you hear what Jake just said?”

“Well, he’s gonna need confidence if he wants to be a goalkeeper. There’s no need to tell him he’s not one of the top three. I don’t want to squash his confidence. We just have to make sure he’s not cocky.”

If you have a confident child, then you know. That can be tricky!

We began to pray. We asked the Lord to give us wisdom as parents to understand the difference between confidence and cockiness. We asked to Lord to help us parent Jake in a way that doesn’t squash his confidence, but in a way that does not lead to cockiness.

Enter this season’s kick-off soccer tournament. Four games. Game #3 was played on Sunday afternoon. After church and Sunday school, we had time for a quick lunch and clothing change, then headed to the fields.

Jake played in the field 1st half. He played in goal 2nd half. To make a long story short, he had an outstanding game in goal.

Such concentration!

Such concentration!

Later that evening, I was upstairs, B (Coach Shultz) was in the kitchen, Jake was in the family room icing a sore knee. I think Coach had just told his little boy that it is fun to watch him play.

That’s when IT happened.

My crazy mama ears heard these words…

“Yeah. If I hadn’t been in goal 2nd half, we probably would have lost.”

Remember that wisdom we had asked the Lord for? Yeah, it kicked in. B responded, but I have no idea what he said. All I could hear were bells going off…WARNING (Will Robinson)! We have crossed over from confidence to cockiness! DANGER (Will Robinson)!

Just in case you didn't get the "Will Robinson" comment. :)

Just in case you didn’t get the “Will Robinson” comment. :)

I don’t know about your kids, but mine have experienced (maybe a time or two ;) ) a mama who flies off the deep end, a mama who can become a bit crazed when she thinks her kids are not honoring Jesus.

Enter God’s grace. His deep, matchless, abiding grace. I uttered a quick, Lord, help me be the kind of parent you want me to be. Give me your words.

I walked downstairs, saying something like, “Uh-huh. Back that train up!”

Then I sat down next to the icing culprit and saw a beautiful, precious child of God who still needs a whole lot of tender, loving guidance from his parents. He looked up at me and knew why I had come down…

“Mom, Dad already dealt with it.”

Hahahahahahahaha.

“I know, but it’s okay if Mom speaks, too.”

*eye roll*

“Jake, let me ask you something. Do you remember how we talk with you about giving God all the glory when you do something well?”

“Yeah.”

“When you play soccer, you always want to be pointing to Jesus. Right?”

*cricket*

“Right?”

“Yeah.”

“When you said that your team probably would’ve lost the game if you hadn’t been in goal 2nd half, do you think you were pointing to the Lord or to yourself?”

8-yr-old boys can be stubborn, so I had to repeat that question, but I knew he knew. Jake did finally answer, “Myself.”

My favorite moment was when B called from the kitchen, “Your mom dealt with that way better than I did!”

That’s grace, Folks!

If you’re a daughter, a mom, a grandmother, a friend, you need grace. We are in desperate need of His grace 24/7. He has given us Himself, so we have access to all the grace we’ll ever need. May we be a people who remember to ask Him for it. May we be a people who remember to seek Him and His wisdom as we parent. Thank God He gave me the wisdom to recognize cockiness and the grace to speak kind and true words.

 

 

Two days ago, my 18-year-old “baby” girl and I walked into yet another doctor’s office. I watched her sign in, explain why she was there, and turn over her driver’s license and insurance card – all with a sense of awe that my daughter is truly becoming a woman.

As the nurse explained how the contrast for this MRI would work, Hannah lay down on the table, and I was quickly taken back to 1999, to the time of her very first MRI.

Standing there, knowing my Hannah Boo leaves for college in just 7 days, I knew I didn’t just want to sit in the back of the room and watch. My sweet girl must’ve known it, too. I came up beside her, stroked her hair and said, “I remember when you were little and spent all that time in the hospital. I held your hand and sang Jesus Loves You…a lot.”

“Mom, do you want to hold my hand again?”

Tears pooled in my eyes…

“Yes, I’d love to.”

There she lay, there I stood, hand-in-hand, as the needles were prepared. As Hannah winced and squeezed my hand, I realized she didn’t think it would hurt that much. The contrast had to go all the way to her hip joint; the numbing med couldn’t reach that far, so the pain she felt was right at the joint.

I was back again in 1999. One of her ID (Infectious Disease) doctors was in the hospital room as Hannah was being sedated for surgery. We watched as Hannah’s eyes closed, thinking the medicine had overtaken her. Suddenly her little arms and legs began to twitch. We weren’t alarmed. The same thing had happened during the sedation for the MRI. The doctor just looked at us and said, “You have quite the fighter on your hands.”

 

This girl has always been a fighter.

This girl has always been a fighter.

IMG_6019

Ha! Little did he know. This girl was a handful. We simply smiled at each other and nodded in agreement.

He must have been a father – it was as if he knew what we were thinking. “Her fighting spirit will drive you crazy over the years, but today – it’s a good thing.”

15+ years later, she’s squeezing my hand and wincing in pain. Still fighting.

Hannah’s just about packed up for school and here we are, just five days away from departure. It should be time spent sitting around, laughing, enjoying our last bit of time together. Instead, we’re hanging with our doctor friends, discovering (finally) the root of Hannah’s 2 ½ year hip pain. She has Hip Dysplasia and will require surgery. Not only that, but a visit to another of Hannah’s doctors yesterday has brought to light the fact that the bacterial infection she contracted while in Haiti has returned.

Five days from heading off on her own and this is what’s going on?

The funny thing is, Hannah and I just look at each other with each diagnosis and say, “Of course.” We’ve come to expect it.

As Mom, I’ve been helpless to do anything about these things. I can’t heal my daughter. I can’t take away her pain. When she was two, completely clueless about how the pain from needles would help her, she cried for me to make the doctors stop. I couldn’t take the pain away. I couldn’t whisk away her fear of these men in white coats. When she was 14 and had to have a hernia repaired, I couldn’t take the pain away. I couldn’t whisk away her fear of surgery. When she was 15 and was writhing on my bed because of a ruptured cyst on her ovary (which we had no idea was happening at the time), I couldn’t take the pain away. I couldn’t whisk away her fear of the unknown. When she was 17 and really sick on the way home from Haiti, I couldn’t take her pain away. I couldn’t whisk away her fear of not being allowed through customs because of her illness. When she was 17 and we were sitting in the office of a gynecologist for the first time, still trying to get some answers about some symptoms that occurred after Haiti, I couldn’t take the pain away. I couldn’t whisk away her fear of never finding out the cause. Just a few days later, when we were being told by that same gynecologist that not only had Hannah contracted a rare bacterial infection, but that she has a rare condition – one that is not curable and is painful. One that might prevent my sweet girl from ever having children of her own — I couldn’t take her pain away. I couldn’t whisk away her fear of not being able to have children. When she was 18 and we were sitting in an orthopedic surgeon’s office, heads spinning as he was giving us the rundown on Hip Dysplasia, I couldn’t take her pain away – pain that she’s felt for 2 ½ years. I couldn’t whisk away her fear of planning for surgery as she’s trying to leave for college.

I got to pray with Hannah and love on her just before hernia surgery.

I got to pray with Hannah and love on her just before hernia surgery.

In those times, all I could do was pray with her, pray for her, sing to her, remind her that she has a God who loves her and is taking care of her, and remind her of the Lord’s promises in His Word.

A short while ago, Hannah shared with me that she feels His power when she’s on her knees crying out to Him. It had been the middle of the night. She couldn’t sleep because of pain, because of fear. So, she climbed out of bed, got down on her knees, cried and prayed.

There I was again – I’m Mommy and I can’t fix these things. I can’t take her pain away. I can’t whisk away her fears.

I shook my fist at Heaven.

Lord, this isn’t right. She’s only 18. I know that you are God and you are good, but it’s just too much! Hannah should be able to run and play soccer. She shouldn’t be in constant pain. She shouldn’t be worried about surgery. She shouldn’t be thinking about what the future holds in terms of children. The only “worries” should be leaving-for-school related. SHE SHOULDN’T BE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT ON HER KNEES!!!

In that moment of my mom-heart breaking, the Lord gave a swift reply:

On her knees is EXACTLY where she should be.

knees

I can’t take her pain away or whisk away her fears, but He can. When Hannah’s in pain or feeling overwhelmed by fear, she knows who to run to. Abba Father understands, holds her close, comforts, calms and loves her in ways that only He can.

Whatever our children face in life, isn’t that what we want for them? That they know who is always there for them? That they know who to run to? That they know who understands, who holds, who comforts, who calms, who loves?

May we be a people who point our children to Abba Father. May we be a people who understand (and rest in) the fact that we cannot take their pain away or whisk their fears away. May we be on our knees and may we teach our children to be on their knees.

It was January, 2010. Our oldest was about to turn 16. I’m pretty sure we established in June’s blog that I am not some sort of party-planning extraordinaire. But, it was 16, after all. I don’t fully live under a rock. I am aware of the term “sweet sixteen”. In fact, I remember seeing an episode or two of a show with a similar title. Of course, we had no desire for a DJ or a horse-drawn carriage pulled by a unicorn. In our house, simple will do. But…16? Simple. And BIG!

What could be BIG for a young lady in the state of Colorado?

This, I’d actually thought about for quite some time. In fact, this idea had come to me years before and I knew what we would do…

glen eyrie

Tea…with friends…in a castle.

So that’s what we did for the girls. Due to life, Hannah’s “Sweet Sixteen” became a “Super Seventeen”, but that’s another story. I think you get the point – we tried to make those birthdays even more special, and even more memorable.

Celebrating Laura's 16th at the Castle.

Celebrating Laura’s 16th at the Castle.

Celebrating Hannah's 16th (turned into 17th) at the Castle.

Celebrating Hannah’s 16th (turned into 17th) at the Castle.

A few months ago, I realized there will be no more sixteen celebrations at Glen Eyrie. No more castle teatimes. Unless, of course, someone decides to take me (and I’d be available anytime!!! ;) ). I am plumb out of daughters, and while I’m convinced that our four sons would indulge Mom and maybe even enjoy tea at the castle, we’ve decided to go a different route.

So, I spent some time racking my brain and doing some internet searches. I thought about boy things, like paintball, zip lines, go-karts. I mean, come on – Aaron’s 16th was coming up and we had to go BIG.

paintball

As I threw out these different ideas to Aaron and asked for his input, I got responses like, “I don’t know, Mom.” “That could be fun.” “I can’t decide.” “I don’t really care.”

For. The. Love.

I was feeling frustrated about not being able to plan anything.

Aaron, it’s 16! Just pick something. And make it BIG!!!

Then it hit me. Although none of my ideas really made him squeal with delight and although he kept saying he didn’t really care what we do, Aaron did know who he wanted to spend birthday time with. My son is very much like me. Completely relational. The same reason I don’t care about BIG is the same reason he doesn’t care about BIG. The Lord created us to just want to be with people. Surrounded by people we care about, being celebrated by those we love and who love us.

We are both completely relational.

We are both completely relational.

But, we also don’t love crowds, so Aaron’s “sweet sixteen” went from something that had to be simple and BIG to something simple and little.

His birthday celebrating has now stretched out over the course of a month. He’s been taken out for a Sonic slush (or 3). We’ve had birthday family movie afternoon. Big sis celebrated by taking him to Elitches (our Denver Six Flags). We’ve had two different pizza/pool parties (the first included little brothers and three sport stacking friends; the second included little brothers and good friends from our homeschooling community who happen to be brother and sister). Next week, B will take Aaron and his 15-yr-old cousin (and friend) on a lunch date to Crave. If you’ve never heard of it, look it up. It’s boy burger heaven! And, the next week, Aaron will get to enjoy time with another good friend at Jumpstreet (an indoor trampoline park).

Pool party #1

Pool party #1

Pool party #2

Pool party #2

I had it in my mind that this “sweet sixteen” thing had to look a certain way. But when I sat down and really listened to my son, I realized that it didn’t.

Our children are all different. Our oldest daughter would have loved a helicopter banner flying through the skies proclaiming “Happy Birthday” from us. If money had not been a factor, maybe we would’ve done that for her. :) Our 2nd daughter would have freaked out if we did something embarrassing like that.

As a mom, I am learning that I need to listen to my children – listen to the things that matter to them. Hear them when they tell me that they don’t really care to run around shooting other people with paint balls for their birthday.

May we be quick learners and quick to listen. May we realize that our children don’t need BIG and they certainly don’t need to spend their 16th birthdays doing something we think they should think is fun. May we see our children for who they are. May we think about the things that make them smile. And then, may we plan a “sweet sixteen” accordingly.

 

 

Hi all, it’s Laura here with a story that will hopefully encourage the parents out there.

It was March of 2012. I and the rest of the Valor Christian High School class of 2012 were up in the mountains for our Senior Retreat. I was two months away from graduating, and I was counting down the days with great anticipation until I (finally) escaped my parent’s embarrassingly strict clutches and embarked on my own AH-MAZING adventures at college.

The popular girls. Ok, a little hyperbolic, but you get the picture!  www.fanpop.com

The popular girls. Ok, a little hyperbolic, but you get the picture!
www.fanpop.com

Anyways, it was about one in the morning on Saturday night and I was sitting in the cabin chatting with all the super-popular girls. These were girls I had never fit in with – not only was I way too straight-laced, too smart, and not quite pretty enough to hang with them, but my dad was also a teacher at the school! Then, one of the absolute coolest girls did something I never thought she would do – she invited me to a party she was throwing at her house while her parents were out of town the next weekend. I was in an awkward position. All I wanted was to be liked by these girls, but I knew enough about these kinds of parties to know better. So, I took the easy way out and blamed it on my parents. “Um, have you met my mom and dad? They are sooooo strict. They would never let me go! They don’t let me do ANYTHING.” (Insert over-the-top teenage attitude and a dramatic eye roll).

She looked me dead in the eye and said something I’ll never forget. “Yeah, Laura. You have crazy-strict parents. But at least you know they love you. I would give anything to have a dad who loves me the way I’ve seen your dad love you.” There was a resounding chorus around the circle as 6 or 7 other girls who had my dad as a teacher affirmed the exact same thing in a moment of atypical authenticity.

Me, my wonderful father, and sister Hannah

Me, my wonderful father, and sister Hannah

As conversation oh-so-quickly turned back to the teenage gossip of the day, I sat quietly, startled into silence. In that moment, I realized something: I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my parents love me. And that’s not something that all children possess.

Are my parents over-strict? The verdict’s still out on that one! But the point is that my parents aren’t perfect. Nor are your parents perfect. If you are a parent, you aren’t perfect, either. You’re going to fail your children, and you’re going to do it over and over again.

But here’s what really at stake: Do your children know you love them? Do you tell them daily? Do you show them with your actions?

I fully believe that despite your failures, if love is the dominant message, it will be enough. If I can encourage you with anything today, it would be the words of the Apostle Peter: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Parents, love your children well. That’s what matters in the end.

Last week, Son #1 turned 16. This week we’ve invited a few friends over to help celebrate at the pool. When I offered to meet one of the moms halfway to pick up her daughter, her exact words to me were, “Oh, don’t you worry about it! I know how crazy it is to plan a party.”

I about spit the tea out of my mouth in laughter. Ask my family. Ask my friends. When Aaron called this a “pool party”, he should have clarified. His friends will be coming over to swim, play, laugh. I’ll run to Little Caesar’s to pick up a few Hot N Ready pizzas. I’ll likely (party’s in two days and I haven’t even decided yet) pick up an already-made-so-I-don’t-have-to-worry-about-it cake from Walmart. When my girls (now 20 and 18) were little, I baked a few birthday cakes – out of a box. And, seriously, they looked something like this…

cake fail

I also tried doing cool things with streamers and balloons. Once. In my mind, it totally looked something like this…

birthday pretty streamers

It didn’t. So, I don’t do decorations.

And, you know what? That’s OK.

Planning the perfect party doth not a good mom make.

I’m looking around my house right now, daydreaming about some sort of housecleaning fairy. Sadly, she’s not showing up. I’ve spent more of my married life in a messy house (we call it “lived in”) than in a clean one. I’m not the greatest housekeeper and honestly, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything else, keep my sanity and keep this house clean.

And, you know what? That’s OK.

Maintaining a perfectly clean home doth not a good mom make.

I lose my temper. I forget playdates. I burn the chicken on the grill. I say ‘no’ way more than I should. I get frustrated when we’re running late. I misplace library books. I forget to change out the laundry.

I. Am. Not. Perfect.

And striving for perfection only leaves me feeling like a failure.

And, you know what? That’s not OK.

Striving for perfection doth not a good mom make.

Jesus puts it simply to the Pharisees…

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:34-40).

It really is all about love. As a person, I am called to love the Lord and to love others. As a parent, I am called to love the Lord and to love my children.

So, Moms (and Dads), I encourage you – spend as much time as you can loving the Lord and loving your children. How can we best do that? By spending time with the Lord and by spending time with our children. Gifts of time and energy, uplifting words, loving notes – these things matter.

Oh, and one more thing. I needed a reminder from the Lord this week. Maybe you need it, too. As a mom, I was feeling like I was not enough. It was during the sermon on Sunday (story of Gideon) that He reminded me that I am enough…

because HE IS ENOUGH!

Can I get an AMEN! up in here?

Lean on Him and His strength this week. Let Him carry you as you seek to love your Lord and your family.

 

 

This past Sunday our church held its annual Love in Action day. A day in which we go about serving the community around our church and around the Denver metro area. Our small group traveled to a new location to worship and serve (painting, kitchen-cleaning, landscaping, window-washing) alongside God’s people in Lakewood, CO.

love in action

The worship service started. A long-haired, pony-tail wearing, semi-toothless guitar player shared that his friends on the street need prayer. Three men were baptized, dunk deeply in the waters of the baptismal while two other men stood on chairs holding up the broken projector screen that covered the window to the baptismal. One of the pastors affectionately spoke about that screen – “It’s ghetto, but it’s ours.” :) The guy who stood behind the pulpit sharing announcements is a professional boxer. After projecting some pictures of different events the church has going on, up popped pictures of his latest, televised fight. He thanked the congregation for their loving support of him and told of the ways he was able to share his faith after the match.

boxing

This church that sits off of Colfax in Lakewood, CO is nothing like our church. This neighborhood that New Life in Christ Church is smack dab in the middle of is nothing like our neighborhood. It is very…Colfax-y (if you live in the Denver area, you know exactly what I mean). Ours is very…suburbia. I won’t call it white suburbia because we have Jewish neighbors, neighbors from Russia, black neighbors, neighbors from India. There is a lot of diversity in our neighborhood, but it is wealthy suburbia nonetheless.

As I sat in the pew with my husband, our children and our friends, I thought back to the different churches we have worshiped in over the years – a free-spirited, jumping-up-and-down-while-blowing-whistles-and-shaking-tambourines kind of church in Zacapa, Guatemala; a calmer, somewhat oppressed, yet full-of-the-Spirit kind of church on a Navajo reservation in Chinle, Arizona; a very stoic, very long, very liturgical Greek Orthodox church in Southern California; and scores of other churches across the U.S. as we’ve visited friends and family, and as we’ve done ministry work.

The church on the Navajo reservation in Chinle, AZ

The church on the Navajo reservation in Chinle, AZ

Chinle

Chinle

Chinle

Chinle

As I sat in the pew thinking back, listening to the boxer-man share about his weigh-in, I realized that this church that sits off of Colfax in Lakewood, CO isn’t so different from our church – at least, not in the most important way. This church and our church are full of fallen, broken people in need of a Savior!

I did not like everything about this church. I did not agree with every word that was spoken at this church. I did not know all of the songs that were sung at this church. But, church is about gathering with fellow believers to worship the One True God. And that’s exactly what we did.

worshi[

My heart was filled to over-flowing as I imagined that free-spirited church in Zacapa, that calmer church on the Navajo reservation, that liturgical church in SoCal and the many other churches across the world standing as one to lift high the name of Jesus. In that moment, I looked at my husband, my children and our friends and knew what a gift this was. I breathed deeply and basked in the glory of His love and His mercy and His grace.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit other churches – different churches – do. Take your children and show them that being a Christ-follower doesn’t have to look a certain way. What a gift we give them when we can say and see that the way our church does worship is not the only way.

I had just returned home from dropping off my daughter at work. I sat down at the computer and popped onto Facebook. One of the first things in my feed was a picture of a little girl’s tied shoe. Her mom (my cousin) had written this caption: “Brooke officially tied her own shoe!!!! Sooo excited! :)”

Will it surprise you to hear that I immediately became a puddle?

My first thought – I remember those days.

My second thought – I miss those days.

My third thought – I want to go back to those days.

After some words and some reminders, an attitude the size of Texas pushed me over the edge. With a frustrated sigh (and a heavy heart), I held my hand out for the keys. The car my husband has shared with our girls was back under my care – that’s why I dropped my daughter off at work. She was not happy about that. I was not happy about that.

keys

I whined and complained a bit to the Lord about attitude issues. Being Mom of 6 children, there are some days I feel like all I do is deal with someone’s bad attitude. There are days I shake my fist at Heaven, pleading with the Lord – I just don’t want to do this today, God! Can’t they just do what I ask…the first time…without questioning…without complaining? Can’t you just give me that today?

As I looked at that little girl’s tied shoe on Facebook, I cried. I’m dealing with teenage baditude. I’d rather be dealing with shoe-tying.

tied shoe

I sat for a few minutes just praying. I knew I really didn’t want to go back to the shoe-tying days. I love my mess of a life and my mess of a family. I look back with nostalgia, but I would never want to go back.  I look forward to each new day with hope, even when dealing with baditudes.

After those few minutes crying and praying, I realized my heart – which I keep thinking will certainly not recover from a breaking – was still intact. I fed the hungry masses (if you know my boys, you know I am not exaggerating), and we made our way to Valor Christian High School for a girls’ soccer game under the lights.

The game ended in a heart-breaking 3-2 loss in overtime. Girl after girl walked past as the parents attempted to bring some cheer: “Good game.” “You fought hard.” “That was fun to watch.”

Then came Cassi – my Hannah’s friend. My friend. Cassi is a Valor starter; a very talented soccer player…who doesn’t get much playing time. This is her 2nd year sitting on the sidelines when she’d rather be playing. Two years in a row starting for Valor’s team, playing some great soccer. Two years in a row, going down with an ACL tear, ending her season.

Hannah with our friend, Cassi.

Hannah with our friend, Cassi.

She walked up the bleachers to my waiting arms. I hadn’t had a chance to hug Cassi since the doctor’s diagnosis. I squeezed her tightly and whispered, “I know that was tough for you to sit on the bench and watch.” She nodded. “I’m sorry about your ACL.”

Then I looked Cassi in the eyes, speaking from my heart, remembering well my own career-ending injury. “You know the Lord. He won’t waste this. He doesn’t waste anything.”

The minute those words left my mouth I realized Jesus was speaking directly to me. As a mom. As a mom who is struggling to understand baditude. He is working and moving. He is redeeming and sanctifying. Even in my home, where baditudes seem to abound (me being the greatest offender).

So take heart today. Whatever it is you’re struggling with inside your home; whatever issues (seemingly big or seemingly small) you’re dealing with when it comes to your marriage and parenting, WE KNOW THE LORD! He won’t waste this. He doesn’t waste anything.

 

From time to time, we like to share some of the correspondence we’ve received over the last few weeks. It is remarkable how God is using the ministry. About 100 new families find us on the internet each week and begin using the material. And it’s great hearing how they are using the material to pass a heritage of faith to the next generation.

Whatever you do, if you’re tempted not to read further, don’t skip the last letter from a Pastor in Sierra Leone. It will humble your heart; and, if you’re like me there will be tears streaming down your face as you pray for him and his church.

When Kim found out about the free Family Time materials, she wrote: “Wow!  Sounds like quite the project you have going.  God does amazing things with those who love Him and follow His commands.  I will add your ministry to my prayer list.”

“The materials look great and I pray that they will help to leave a legacy in my family of our Christian Heritage.  I have 2 daughters myself, 2 and 5. Thank you for writing back! In Christ, Kim.”

Janet wrote on our FamiliesAlive® Facebook page: “This is a great resource for Christian homeschooling families and any family that would like to set up a regular bible study with their children.”

Stephanie emailed: “I’m currently using your curriculum during my homeschool lessons for my 6th grader. We love the stories, activities and lessons tremendously… thank you for providing this curriculum. We have really enjoyed it… I look forward to the new stories and activities that will come out soon.  I have organized it so that we will complete Word 3 at the end of this year and begin Word 4 either over the summer or when we start back up in the fall.  Again, thank you to you and your family for providing such wonderful bible lessons for all to share.  I will pass your link along. Thank you, Stephanie.”

We have also been blessed by the number of pastors in South America and Africa that are using the Family Time materials with their church families. Recently I spoke on the phone with a young pastor and I assured him he can reproduce our materials to use with his congregation. To protect him and his people I have removed some of the details from a recent email from him. When you read his note, you’ll understand why.

“Pastor Dave, thank you very much for your concern. My church is in XXXXXXXX, Sierra Leone West Africa. This place is dominated by Muslim all most 90% of the population are Muslim. I just graduated from a ABC University, Liberia and has gone back to start church. This has brought lot of persecution on my life. We don’t even have a church building and the place where we meet is own by a Muslim family. They have asked us to leave the place many and we are hoping that God will provide us a place for worship. This church is bless to have two town lot for church building. The owner gave us this place with a mandate that we must build something or they give back to other people. As a result of this we are praying to that we will put up temporary structure so that the church will not scatter. Our challenge is that most of the people in this church are coming from Muslim background like myself.”

“Please pray for them also that they will stay till the end and nothing will move them. Thank you for your prayer and concern. Pastor Musa XXXXXXXXXXXX

We are encouraged that God is using FamiliesAlive® in ways that we never imagined. And, I am humbled by the sacrifice and service of men like this pastor. Pray that God will protect him and his people this Easter season and give them an open door for the gospel of grace!

Easter is fast-approaching. Even as I write those words, I give a little gasp. Wait. What? Easter’s just 3 days away? Shocking!

I remember well some of the sunrise services we attended way back in the day. My dad was a pastor, then an elder, then a pastor again, so I’ve been to my fair share of those early services. And, you know what? My 40-year-old memory of them releases a smile on my lips and joy in my heart. I know on Saturday nights I was not looking forward to being up at the crack of dawn. I know I was tired as I dragged myself out of bed, put on a dress and hat (the younger years) and made the trek with my family to some outdoor location. But being out in creation, enjoying the crisp, cool air (sometimes huddled together beneath coats and blankets), singing praises to the risen King as light slowly, yet somehow suddenly filled the space around us was somewhat magical and completely beautiful.

sunrise

And I remember donuts. Donuts make everything more memorable. ;)

I know I’ve written about some of our Easter traditions before. I’m sure most of you have some of your own.

Whatever you do, make it meaningful! Jesus’ death and resurrection are everything. Don’t just gather with family and friends, talk, eat, collect eggs, laugh, feast on chocolate. Gather with family and friends, talk, eat, collect eggs, laugh, feast on chocolate in remembrance of what our Savior has done. Sing hymns (one of our favorites is “Christ Arose”) and praise songs together. Hide resurrection eggs with the other eggs and tell the story as you break open each egg. Bring out the Bible and let your children act out the story, sharing in the retelling of what Christ has done for us. Bake those empty-tomb-biscuits and revel in our glorious salvation. Have each person share aloud or secretly write down one thing they struggle with (pride, impatience, anger, jealousy, etc) and shout praises to Him because those sins have been covered. Again, whatever you do, make it meaningful!

Resurrection Eggs

Resurrection Eggs

Easter egg hunting is over. Now waiting patiently as Grandpa calls the kids up with the resurrection eggs.

Easter egg hunting is over. Now waiting patiently as Grandpa calls the kids up with the resurrection eggs.

A couple of Shultz boys acting out a scene from Christ's crucifixion as we retell the story.

A couple of Shultz boys acting out a scene from Christ’s crucifixion as we retell the story.

There is something beautiful about giving our children a deep understanding of who God is and what He has done for us. May we not let this be just another holiday. May we be a people who remember well what our Savior has done for us. May we be a people who enjoy the richness and the beauty of redemption. May we be a people who pass that remembering and enjoying on to the next generation, so that the next thousand generations would know of His great love for us.

May these words fill our hearts and our homes this weekend – and every weekend to come!

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus, my Savior,

Waiting the coming day, Jesus, my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,

He arose a Victor from the dark domain,

And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.

He arose! He arose!

Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus, my Savior;

Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus, my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,

He arose a Victor from the dark domain,

And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.

He arose! He arose!

Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Death cannot keep his Prey, Jesus, my Savior;

He tore the bars away, Jesus, my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,

He arose a Victor from the dark domain,

And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.

He arose! He arose!

Hallelujah! Christ arose!

From My Heart to Yours — Big Wisdom in a Small Package

Ever hear a story that just speaks to you in a big way? That just happened to me. Seriously. I was writing a blog this morning about something completely different, but felt the Lord nudging me to write something different. I had no idea what that something different was, so I spent some time asking  Him to… Read More

The Mailbag for 4/17/2014

From time to time, we like to share some of the correspondence we’ve received over the last few weeks. It is remarkable how God is using the ministry. About 100 new families find us on the internet each week and begin using the material. And it’s great hearing how they are using the material to… Read More