Author Archives: Rebecca Shultz

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One Thing We Must NEVER Do As Parents

by Becky Shultz

Got kids? Then you’ve got wonderful blessings – gifts from on high!

You’ve also got disagreements, issues, messes, worriment, and trouble.

And the older those kids get, the bigger the problems get, the more difficult those difficulties are to handle.

Let me tell you about this little trap we fall into when our children are small. I’ll just call it the If-I-teach-them-the-right-things-they’ll-do-the-right-things TRAP. It becomes easier and easier (especially if we have a compliant child) to believe that, as long as we parent well, MY child will do what’s right.

We see other people’s children and the mistakes they’re making, and think MY child would never do that!  

I fell into that trap.

Our eldest daughter, Laura, was your typical firstborn – compliant, rule-following, eager-to-please. She loved when we praised her good behavior, so that’s exactly what we did. We set up boundaries, knowing she’d not cross them (at least not out loud). We’d read a parenting book or two, fell into a nice routine, and I started to feel like a pro!

Enter Hannah.

Oh. Merciful. Providence!

She was lucky she was cute and sweet, and a great sleeper.

Of course, we absolutely adore daughter #2, but talk about a wake-up call.

Shortly before Hannah turned one, we started to see glimpses of her “rules are made for breaking” mentality. By two, she was well on her way to crossing every boundary we had set up. Hannah had no desire to please us.

The difference between our eldest daughter and secondborn.

The difference between our eldest daughter and secondborn.

l&h

They might look alike, but they couldn’t be more different!

Thank God for our small group and one of the best parenting books we’ve ever read – Shepherding a Child’s Heart.

There was a great light bulb moment as we read and discussed this book. The focus of our parenting needs to be about the hearts of our children, not about behavior.

I’ll be honest, it’s still difficult. When I’m told things like, “Your kids are so well behaved”, I have to stop myself from welling up with pride, and remind myself that good behavior is not the desired end result. When my kids aren’t behaving well, I have to do the same. Otherwise, I’d be greatly embarrassed!

What is the desired end result?

That our children love Jesus and love others. Period.

And Jesus-lovers and others-lovers are not, I repeat, NOT perfect! I love Jesus. I love others. I screw up on a regular basis.

So, parents, we need to hear this…

We live in a fallen, broken world. We are fallen, broken people. Our children are fallen, broken children. No matter how well we teach them what is right, they will mess up. They will make unwise decisions. They will cross lines. They will make bonehead mistakes.  

And, you? You will feel like throwing in the towel. You will feel like quitting. You will feel like tossing up your hands in surrender and saying, “I quit! I don’t want to do this parenting thing anymore!  

So, what do we do when parenting is hard? We pray. We pray some more. We pray even more. We pray for the hearts of our children. We pray that the Lord would give us wisdom as we parent. And, we don’t quit. We get back out there and keep doing this thing.

There is this beautiful, hard word that seems to be a theme throughout Scripture. It’s the idea of perseverance. When the going gets tough, by God’s grace, we keep doing this parenting thing.

If you’re struggling through some tough issues with your children (younger children, medium-sized, older), hear this:

There is nothing new under the sun!

If your child has made some big-consequence mistakes…

There is nothing new under the sun!

If your child is trying new, crazy, dangerous things just to be cool…

There is nothing new under the sun!

If your child is turning his back on everything he’s been taught and walking down a path that will only lead to trouble…

There is nothing new under the sun!

You may feel alone, because frankly, we don’t have to share every mistake our children make. These are their stories, too. It’s good and right to sometimes quietly persevere. But, persevere we must. Even when we don’t know what to say or what to do.

We pray. And we persevere.

If you’re not there yet, be prepared. KNOW that some tough parenting is coming. If you notice someone else having to do the tough stuff, don’t sit in judgment. We are sharing in one of the most beautiful, rewarding, heart-filling, ugly, messy, gut-wrenching missions of all time.

We must be filled with compassion and grace as we share in this parenting journey.

And,

We must never give up.

 


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From My Heart to Yours – Enjoying the Process

by Becky Shultz

It all began 23+ years ago when we found out we were expecting a baby girl.

Laura Elizabeth Shultz slowly made her entrance into this world, but quickly stole our hearts!

I remember being stopped while out for a walk or moving through a grocery store. Enjoy this time! It FLIES by, they said.

I would always nod my head in agreement, while thinking, Yeah. Yeah. Whatever.

It wasn’t long after…

I became that woman stopping mamas in the street, Enjoy this time! It FLIES by, I said.

Raising Laura has been wonderful. It’s been exhausting. It’s been delightful. It’s been exasperating. It’s been enchanting. It’s been bothersome. It’s been pleasing. It’s been disagreeable. It’s been beautiful. It’s been ugly. If you’re a parent, you understand.

The highs, the lows; the simplicities, the difficulties; the good days, the bad days…it was all worth it! There is nothing quite as rewarding as being a parent.

I could tell you story after story, share with you memory after memory, but as those flood my mind today, I’ll remember, yet keep my hands from writing them here.

If you’re a parent, take a moment to remember – think back to days gone by. Do you have funny stories to tell? Hard stories? Memories of your children that make you smile? Sit around the dinner table tonight and share those stories, those memories with your kids. Tell them your favorite things about them. Even if you’ve shared these things 100 times, make it 101.

Because those people who stopped me while out for a walk or moving through a grocery store were right.

In the blink of an eye, our sweet baby Laura went from gumming cheerios in a high chair to marrying her best friend.

So I sit here this morning, looking back, remembering, reflecting. And, I realize what a gift the past 23+ years have been. In particular, what a gift the past year has been.

When Laura graduated from college and moved back home, I had no idea how special this time would be. Her loudness and laughter were back, but gone were the days of childish chitchat (mostly), and here were the days of deeper conversations. More of a woman-to-woman relationship. She’s still my daughter (I’ll always be MOM), but now she’s become my friend. And, while the transition is not always sweet and easy, it is a beautiful one.

The day that Laura got engaged ushered in a completely new and different season. I can’t give credit to the older, wiser woman who encouraged me to “enjoy the process”, because I don’t even remember who said it. But, those words stuck with me every step of the way.

There were some ugly moments (we live in a fallen world, so there always will be), but let me tell you I absolutely enjoyed the process and what a gift it was!

The process looked something like this…

Laura, who has the gift of planning, set the plan in motion. She invited me regularly to the couch beside her to look at her Pinterest boards, give my opinion on colors and guest list, and to listen to her music selections. We traveled together to the bridal shop, Laura trying on gowns while I oohed and aahed. I sat in a chair off the platform that housed special bride-to-be dressing rooms, trying to take it all in, soaking up the moment. Enjoying the process.

In June, the Lord gave us a special ministry trip to Michigan. We flew out together (with Grandma & Grandpa), went on walks, worked side-by-side, figured out some more wedding stuff, and spent lots of time talking. I went to bed every night that week, said goodnight to Laura who was sharing the room with me, rolled over, let out a contented sigh and fell asleep smiling, so grateful for this time with my daughter. Enjoying the process.

Enjoying ministry work together in Michigan

Enjoying ministry work together in Michigan

We went on some hikes, leading up to hiking a 14er (my first) less than two weeks before wedding day. We put all wedding plans on hold and just enjoyed being together out in God’s creation, taking in spectacular views. Laura encouraged me every step of the way, telling me how strong I was. I just kept thinking, Lord, this is an absolute gift! (Actually, first I was thinking I was going to die ;) , but in between gasps I was thinking what a gift this time was). Enjoying the process.

One of our hikes

One of our hikes

14er!

14er!

We spent a Saturday moving Laura’s belongings out of our house and into her new apartment – the one she would soon begin sharing with her husband. It was an exciting day! I watched as Laura showed us the place she and Stephen found, smiled as she told us of the plans she had for the space, and giggled as she excitedly unpacked wedding gifts that were a perfect addition to their place. I watched brothers work and laugh. And, there it was again. Another contented sigh. Enjoying the process.

Moving day!

Moving day!

On and on it went. A walk through the venue, the bridal shower, cleaning house to get ready for the East Coast Shultzes, working on invitations with family, airport runs as family and friends began to arrive. I kept hearing that voice tell me to “enjoy the process”, so I spent time intentionally stopping to notice all that was happening, treasuring moments, sighing contentedly. Enjoying the process.

Bridal shower

Bridal shower

And just like that, the day was upon us. My head swirled as I took in all those around us who were helping. A sister-in-law picking up monster bags of tortilla chips, a cousin ironing all Shultz boys’ clothes, friends baking and delivering, friends cutting multiple watermelons, friends taking pictures, friends and family setting up and tearing down, a sweet friend helping fix hair and makeup, a friend coming in as the DJ, friends serving food, a dear friend coordinating it all, keeping the wheels turning and the plates spinning.

Shultz boys in their freshly ironed clothes :)

Shultz boys in their freshly ironed clothes :)

We absolutely could not have pulled this wedding off the way we did without our friends and family. Their love and sacrifice were stunning. I stood to the side and just watched, reveling in God’s goodness to us. I smiled. And sighed contentedly. Enjoying the process.

To top it all off, Grandpa (my dad) got to perform the wedding ceremony. Be still my heart!

Grandpa. I will always treasure this!

Grandpa. I will always treasure this!

In that moment, I realized I had been feeling like Mary must have felt shortly after Jesus was born. We’re told that she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19 NIV). That’s what I had been doing. Treasuring and pondering in my heart. Recognizing gifts from the Lord at every turn. Enjoying the process.

My encouragement to you today, parents, is this:

Enjoy the moments, recognize the gifts, take pleasure in the process. You might not enjoy every moment or take pleasure in every part of the process, but be intentional to enjoy what you can.

And, sit back, take notice, breathe deeply of God’s love for you, treasure up the moments and ponder those good things all around you.

I have a tendency to hurry through things. To get stuff done. But, this season with my daughter has taught me to enjoy the process. May we learn to slow down, notice the gifts and be present. May it be said of me…

Becky treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

 

 


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From My Heart to Yours – We ARE Ready

by Becky Shultz

I sat down to write a blog yesterday. Here’s how it went:

Lord, please give me the words you want me to share.

*cricket* *cricket* *cricket*

So writing a blog turned into 30 minutes of praying and thinking and crying. I thought about this past year and all the Lord had in store – the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the tidy, the messy, the encouraging, the intimidating, the normal, the shocking. I’ve said this a time or two: I was not ready for this year. I was not ready for what our family would face.

Somehow, when I wrote those words, when I read those words, I realized they ARE NOT TRUE.

The Lord had been preparing me my entire life for the year we would face. He’d been preparing my husband. He’d been preparing our children. He’d been preparing Hannah.

family-1517179_1920Every illness. Every doctor’s visit. Every hospital stay. Every sermon. Every birth. Every death. Every wedding. Every funeral. Every encouraging card during times of grief. Every Scripture passage read. Every worship song sung. Every verse memorized. Every family chat about who God is. Every conversation about our Lord’s faithfulness. Every prayer answered (I believe that all prayers are answered – with a yes, no, maybe, or wait). Every chapel. Every quiet time. Every hike in His mountains. Every walk along His beaches. Every hail storm. Every spectacular sunset. Every one of these things. Every one of these moments, the Lord has been revealing more and more about Himself. He has been spending 43 years (actually, since the beginning of time) pursuing me, loving me, leading me, delighting in me. He has done the same for my husband, my children, my sick daughter.

So, we were ready for this past year. We were ready for what our family would face.

He made us ready.

Hannah’s sickness was not all that the Lord had in store for us this year. And, while it has overshadowed many most things, I was determined that this blog would be about something other than Hannah’s sickness.

I was just starting to write about the most joyous day. A day in July – less than three weeks ago. The day our oldest “baby” got married. I was remembering, smiling, thinking about all the great pictures I could attach to this post, when my phone rang. It was Hannah. She was calling me from her bathroom. I knew something wasn’t right. Her voice was barely audible, “I need you to come up here.” I bounded up the stairs, and found her sitting (barely) on her bathroom floor, leaning over the toilet. She had a rough time the day before, just felt awful. We knew she wasn’t well, but everything she feels, every virus she catches, every headache she has all seems to be tainted by her disease. It’s difficult to know what’s related and what’s not. *sigh*

When I got to her, she asked me just to help her lie down right where she was, on her bathroom floor. She stayed there while I called Brian (my husband, her daddy). I was finally able to help her get back into bed, made a phone call to her neurologist and one to her primary care doc.

My blog-writing morning turned into getting Hannah to the doctor. Again.

Long story short, she has a concussion – something ER docs missed after Hannah and her friends were rear-ended last weekend. One week after the accident, she was feeling better, playing volleyball at a family picnic, and got hit in the back of the head with a ball. That was just three days ago. Her doc says back-to-back concussions. No wonder Hannah’s been feeling sick, dizzy, weak, and not wanting to do anything.

Hannah’s doctor ordered a CT Scan for Friday, just in case she’s not feeling better. She also discovered that Hannah’s neck is messed up from the accident. That means we head back to her naturopath/chiropractor. More appointments.

I have to remind myself…we were ready for this, too.

As we drove home, I told Hannah, “I don’t really know what to say anymore. I’m just sorry that you have a concussion and you feel so bad.”

Her response kind of kicked my hiney…

“I’m just glad it’s me with the concussion. It would be awful for the boys; they’re getting ready to start school and soccer. I’m not doing anything anyway. Just resting and healing. I may as well have a concussion.”

She chuckled.

I know it has to be difficult for her, but I also know that she meant what she said.

And, in that moment, the Lord showed me that He had prepared Hannah for all that would happen this year.The Cooper Wedding-519

I’ll write another day (next time, Lord willing) about Laura’s wedding. For now, our God is good, y’all.

I don’t know what you and your family have faced this past year. I don’t know what you or we will face in the coming year. But, I do know that you…that we…are ready for whatever comes.

 

 


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From My Heart to Yours — When All You Want for Mother’s Day is Healing for Your Daughter and You Don’t Get it

I woke up on Sunday, May 8 feeling absolutely pulverized. Since September, we have been trying our darndest to live a semi-normal life while searching for answers to Hannah’s health issues. If you’ve followed along, you know that our college-sophomore daughter got sick just after classes started at Pepperdine University last fall. After three weeks of illness in Southern California with no answers, I had to help Hannah withdraw from classes, come home and begin searching for answers here. To make a long story short, our 20-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a rare, neurological auto-immune disorder (CIDP — Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) and began regular IVIG treatments. In late November, she began having seizures. We’ve been to countless doctors (including Neurology at Mayo Clinic), had the gamut of tests run, and still there are more questions than answers. Currently, Hannah is seeing a cardiologist, who just hooked her up to a 30-day event monitor (Hannah’s heart will be monitored at all times for 30 days), has scheduled an echo cardiogram and tilt-table test, and has us keeping track of her blood pressure multiple times a day. She also had another EMG test this week after being off of IVIG for the past 3 months (per Mayo Clinic’s suggestion). That test still points to CIDP, so Hannah will begin regular IVIG treatments again next month.

At yet another appointment -- being put on a 30-day heart monitor.

At yet another appointment — being put on a 30-day heart monitor.

Hannah's 6th or 7th EMG (we've lost count). Still points to CIDP.

Hannah’s 6th or 7th EMG (we’ve lost count). Still points to CIDP.

The hardest part about all of this has been not knowing what we’re dealing with. And, It. Has. Been. Hard!

So, Mother’s Day was coming. A few weeks before, Hannah had nearly one week of a reprieve from most of her symptoms. I was hopeful.

Lord, please be finished doing whatever work you’re doing. Please do NOT let the numbness and tingling return. Please give Hannah strength back in her body. Please HEAL OUR DAUGHTER!

I even went so far as to remind the Lord what day was coming.

Lord, you know Mother’s Day is right around the corner. I WILL be content with whatever you have in store, but oh, Abba Father, you know the desire of my heart. All I want is for Hannah to be healed. Would you see fit to give me this gift for Mother’s Day?

Hannah had spent an entire week sleeping, resting, saving up her energy so that she could attend a home school prom (ages 15-20) with her brothers and some friends. That special night out happened to be the night before Mother’s Day. Hannah had a blast. Her numbness and tingling had returned, but she danced and laughed, and danced and laughed. A great time, but the night took everything out of her.

There I was, getting ready for a Mother’s Day breakfast (cooked up by B and sons for Grandma and me) and for church immediately after, when Hannah came into my room.

Mom, Happy Mother’s Day.

*Hugs*

I know we all planned to be together today, but I’m not sure what to do. I just don’t have it in me to get out of bed yet.

All I could say was, I know, Hannah. And I understand. Go back to bed. We’ll spend time together later.

*Sigh*

Mother’s Day breakfast was delicious. There were nine of us around our table, laughing, sharing, talking. And all I could think was…

There should be ten of us.

After breakfast, seven Shultzes entered the doors at Cherry Creek Pres. and filed into a back pew (breakfast had gone late and church was packed by the time we got there). Worship began and I tried to look down the row and thank the Lord for my family — the gift of worshiping together. Almost all eight of us. But, not quite. And all I could think was…

There should be eight of us.

We are in a season of life in which there is a darkness over everything. The Lord comes along side and gives us joy in the midst of the pain. He has rallied some of His people around us. He has given my husband a full-time coaching position. He gave us (in advance) two extra cars for this year, knowing our need and meeting it fully. He has provided monetarily (sometimes many times at the 11th hour). He has given the gift of amazing friends for our sons and a theater program that we are all blessed by. He has given our youngest two a passion for soccer, and allowed us to watch them play with other soccer parents we love. He has given our oldest daughter a good job and an even better man who will become part of our family in July. He has given Hannah rest, and a college scholarship that’s being held for her.

What an absolute gift that B gets to coach full-time.

What an absolute gift that B gets to coach full-time.

Watching our boys perform gives us great joy!

Watching our boys perform gives us great joy!

Watching our boys play soccer gives us great joy!

Watching our boys play soccer gives us great joy!

Our oldest daughter is getting married!!!!!! :)

Our oldest daughter is getting married!!!!!! :)

We recognize all of these things as gifts to us, and honestly, I think the Lord just knows. He knows the pain we feel. He understands the darkness that is pressing in on us. And, He knows how weak and frail we are. He gives. He gives Himself daily. Momently. And we miss it. In our humanity, we need something more. Something tangible. So, He gives more. He gives tangible. But He doesn’t give that exact thing that we want so badly.

So there I was on Mother’s Day morning. I did not feel like worshiping the God who chose not to give me the gift of a healed daughter. There was this part of me — this very ugly part of me — that wanted to run to the front, grab a microphone and shout a warning to all who would listen:

It’s a SHAM! God is NOT with us! He is NOT good! He is NOT faithful! He does NOT love us!

Thank the Lord that ugly part didn’t win out, but I knew I had a choice to make in that moment. I did not feel our Savior’s presence. I did not feel His goodness. I did not feel His faithfulness. I did not feel His love. But, I know Him. And I know His Word. His Word tells me He is with me, He is good, He is faithful, He is love. I had to remind my heart of these things, so as we began to sing, I looked up at the cross and said, You are with me. You are good. You are faithful. You do love me.

And then, right there in the very back row of our church, I did what I did not feel like doing. I worshiped the God who chose not to give me the gift of a healed daughter.

With tears streaming down my face, I raised my arm (I’m a presbyterian, so it was just one arm. Ha! :) )  and praised the God I know.

Are you in a season of darkness? Do you cry out to the Lord only to hear the sound of silence? Are you waiting and watching and wondering? You are not alone!

What I have come to learn in these days of grief is that I cannot follow my heart. I have to lead it! When I do not feel His presence, His goodness, His faithfulness, His love, I have to remind myself of those things. I have to say aloud, You are with me. You are good. You are faithful. You do love me. I must declare those things or I will get lost in this darkness. And, I must…MUST…continue praising the Lord, even when I do not feel like praising Him.

Brothers and sisters, may the Lord give us the courage to do these things. May He bolster us to live these words out:

Though the darkness has not lifted, YET, I will praise you.

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.

I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

~Psalm 34:1-3

 


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A group of soccer players, coaches and families praying for Hannah.

From My Heart to Yours — Drinking From This Cup: What Our Daughter is Learning and Teaching the Rest of Us

When our daughter, Hannah, left for leadership training near her college campus back on August 20, we had no idea what was in store for her…for all of us. We did not see the twist in the road that lay before us. She was looking forward to her 2nd year at Pepperdine University, continuing to learn and prepare for a job in the medical field. She was really looking forward to leading a team of students as they work with underprivileged preschool children. We were looking forward to phone calls, texts, FaceTimes. We were really looking forward to Christmas Break!

All of that changed when Hannah got sick. Her immune system decided to go a little crazy, causing neurological issues that have kept her from continuing her 3rd semester at Pepperdine (we’re hoping it’s just for the semester).

A group of soccer players, coaches and families praying for Hannah.

A group of soccer players, coaches and families praying for Hannah.

Hannah ready for more testing.

Hannah ready for more testing.

We now seem to have a diagnosis (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) and a treatment plan (regular IVIG therapy), but the road before her (and the rest of our family) seems daunting and long. As Mom, I feel like the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8), begging the Lord to just touch her body and right her immune system. He absolutely can do this! But, in the same breath, I feel like Jesus as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane…

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from [HANNAH]; yet not my will, but yours be done.

This is definitely NOT our will.

This is definitely NOT our will.

Neither was a hospital stay.

We all feel like our lives have been “hijacked” or “put on hold”, but that’s absolutely not true. This. Is. Life. This is the path He set before us. We have no choice. We have to walk through this. What we do have a choice about is how we walk through.

This morning, I’m begging the Lord again for complete healing in Jesus’ Name. I will continue to “bug” Him with this plea. :) But, I’m also thanking the Lord for the strength, wisdom and grace He has breathed into my daughter as she persistently plods through.

Sweet Hannah is a writer. A very private writer. The Lord has begun to prompt her to share some of her writing with others. Four weeks ago, she posted some words on Facebook. Having been home less than one week after having to medically withdraw from school, these words were on her mind and in her heart…

Pain is temporary. Suffering is fleeting. Illness is momentary. Affliction is passing. These things I have come to know. The word chronic tries to put God in a box. Chronic illness only has power when we are on earth. So thank God my true home is in Heaven above. Doctors may or may not be able to heal me for this life, but I rest in the knowledge and assurance that God will heal me one day for eternity. I may know pain and suffering now, and I may know it for the rest of my “life,” but I believe in Him. He may choose not to heal me in this life, but one day, he will resurrect my broken body and I will be made new and never again will I be touched with pain. Tonight my tears are not from fear or hurt or sadness, because I know my God is more powerful than any force on earth, and I have all of eternity to praise Him in a body that is renewed. Time now may seem long. Chronic may seem debilitating. But if this is the course God has made for me, I will run it to completion, for waiting for me is Jesus with arms wide open. And I know, that while on earth, He will fill me with the strength to live with my suffering, and my suffering is also His suffering. And so together, we can show the world a taste of God’s eternal love. I have hope and I have faith, that my affliction, my bad health, is Christ’s tool. Here I am World, and I am broken and sick for now, but Christ is in me and one day when I slip home, He will be the only thing in me, no more pain and no more illness, only Christ will fill me.

Now, more than 7 weeks into this vast unknown world of autoimmune diseases and disorders, not knowing what the future holds, here is what Hannah has written, what Hannah is learning, what Hannah is teaching…

Many goals now forever out of reach,

For a lifetime of hopes, there is now simply a breach.

All that mattered, now means no more,

Everything I believed in has been shaken to my core.

 

Through the turmoil and the breaking,

Through the disaster, all my pain, and so much aching,

Only one thought has mattered to me,

If I can just surge on a little longer, I will soon be free.

 

Now I lose sight of all I used to want,

Thoughts of my old way of life are only good to haunt.

Many intentions now morphed to one,

In with the new, for with the old I am forever done.                            

 

Some look at me and say I am trapped,

For trapped I am in a body that seems to have snapped.

But as my body starts to malfunction,

It is clear that my soul has now come to a new junction.

 

“To live is Christ, to die is gain,”

I am being tested of this as I go through all this pain.

How I react in these times of trial,

Will either cause my God to frown or to give me a smile.

 

What purpose do I have on this earth,

If I cannot show the world my crazy journey of rebirth?

From a girl with it all, the world in my hand,

To a girl with nothing, who needs help to even stand.

 

Yet now I have way more than I did,

Of everything selfish I strived for, God said, “be rid”

Now I know that my purpose here,

Is to show off my God, and to give Him all my fear.

 

So while others say I have lost so much,

I laugh and know all has been replaced with God’s touch.

I may not be able to do all the world holds,

But I patiently await as the rest of my journey unfolds.

 

I long for the day when I am finally home,

But until that happens I will no longer just aimlessly roam.

Each thought I think, each thing I do,

I now realize must be in reflection of you.

If this is where the Lord has our daughter, we rejoice in what He is doing. He is binding her heart to His.

I keep begging the Lord to take this cup from Hannah, but just as drinking from the cup (going to the cross) was good and right for Jesus, so too, is it good and right for Hannah and for the rest of our family. We will continue to drink and may His Name be glorified in the process. Praise HIS holy, holy, HOLY name!


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A gift to be with Hannah in the ER at UCLA.

From My Heart to Yours — Walking Alongside is a GIFT

As I think back over the past couple of weeks, they seem to me to be a blur. Having been home for three days now, in some ways it feels as if I never left, except for the fact that we’re about to enter the month of October. In other ways, being out in California, taking care of our sick college-student daughter, it feels as if I was away from my regularly scheduled life for a long time.

Without my normal distractions (four sons), I had plenty of time to talk to the Lord and plenty of time to think.

It was Day 6. It happened to be our youngest son’s 10th birthday. When I left the house six days earlier, Jake asked, “Will you be home in time for my birthday?”

He turned 10 without me.

He turned 10 without me.

At that time we thought I’d fly out for a few days and be home for part of the weekend. “I’m sure! I can’t imagine needing to stay with Hannah for that long.”

We were wrong.

And there I was, feeling all sad and sulky about not having returned home in time for this special day. With tears pouring down my face, I began to pray and think (really…I don’t think I ever stopped praying and thinking). It felt unfair that Hannah wasn’t getting any better. It felt unfair that I couldn’t be home. But, having known the Lord for as long as I can remember, and having danced through some serious highs and been carried through some serious lows, and being a lover of His Word, I know who He is. I know He can be trusted.

So, I told the Lord that I knew He had a purpose (or purposes) in all of this. A purpose that would prosper us and not harm us. A purpose to give us hope and a future. I told the Lord I trusted Him with my time. I trusted Him with my son’s tender heart (he was missing his mama). I trusted Him with my daughter’s health. And I told the Lord that my heart was broken. That this felt like too much.

I expected what came next. He held me in that moment. He assured me that as a Father He understood my pain. He reminded me that grief is a part of life and He just let me cry.

There is something healing about tears.

As I lifted my tear-stained face, the burden felt lighter.

However, I did not expect what came next. It was one word…gift.

Gift?

Gift.

Lord, how is this a gift????

His gentle words to my soul encouraged me to remember. To look back over the years of Hannah’s life and health journey.

As I did, I realized that through every one of Hannah’s medical issues, every time her symptoms have baffled doctors, every time she’s had surgery, every time she’s needed to be woken in the middle of the night to take meds, every time she’s needed to be taken care of for an extended period of time, I’ve been there. I was the one carting her around from doctor to doctor. I was the one kissing her cheek and praying over her as she lay on a gurney. I was the one waking her in the middle of the night, bringing her water and medicine. I was the one taking care of her.

The Lord reminded me that to be Hannah’s mom, to journey with her in times of health AND in times of sickness is a gift.

There was no sudden healing, there were still no answers, but, in that moment I realized I should treasure being there…in southern California…walking alongside my sweet girl in this time of sickness.

A gift to be with Hannah for blood work.

A gift to be with Hannah for blood work.

A gift to be with Hannah in the ER at UCLA.

A gift to be with Hannah in the ER at UCLA.

A gift to be Hannah's mama and to journey alongside her.

A gift to be Hannah’s mama and to journey alongside her.

What a GIFT!!!!!

It doesn’t end there. You get a 2-for-1 today. :)

Just one week before Hannah got sick, I had been feeling as if I wasn’t doing enough. I began asking the Lord to give me Kingdom work to do.

Not only did the Lord speak clearly to my heart about the gift of journeying alongside my children, but He reminded me that my job as Mom is Kingdom work.

I don’t know what kind of “walking alongside” you’re doing. It might be teaching littles at home; it might be going out to work, then coming home to cook and clean and tuck into bed; it might be taking care of a sick one; it might be disciplining a wayward one; it might be down on your knees, begging the Lord for reconciliation or restoration. Whatever your walking alongside looks like, you’re likely tired today.

So, hear this:

Keep trusting. Keep resting. Keep walking. Walking alongside is a gift. And…YOU ARE DOING KINGDOM WORK!

*Update on Hannah: Still struggling with neurological symptoms — extreme fatigue, tingling and numbness in legs, tingling in chest and face, back and eye pain. We meet with her doctor Friday morning to try to figure out who to see, what to do next. Thanks for your prayers!


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This brother misses Hannah a TON when she's far away.

From My Heart to Yours — To All My Mama Friends Whose Babies are Far Away Today

To All My Mama Friends Whose Babies are Far Away Today,

I feel like we belong to some sort of club. As I’ve watched you post pictures of your goodbyes the past few weeks, I’ve cried with you. I’ve been there. I AM there.

I spent three years saying goodbye to our eldest as she studied at Westmont College in California. Watching siblings hug and kiss and cry. Rip. My. Heart. Out!

Less than three weeks ago, I said goodbye (again) to our second daughter, Hannah — she’s studying at Pepperdine, also in California. I miss her. Her little brothers miss her.

This brother misses Hannah a TON when she's far away.

This brother misses Hannah a TON when she’s far away.

These goodbyes have become part of our normal around here, but they’re still hard. So hard. I get that pit in my stomach, that lump in my throat, those tears that I can’t contain.

I hate saying goodbye.

Saying goodbye to these precious daughters is so difficult to do.

Saying goodbye to these precious daughters is so difficult to do.

Yesterday I got a call from Hannah. She’s sick. All I could do was pray with her over the phone, assure her that we’d continue to pray for her throughout the day, tell her I love her and remind her to stay hydrated. Last year she got the flu and had to be taken to the hospital, suffering from severe dehydration, so that’s always on my mind when she gets sick. Before she had been diagnosed (last year), docs were concerned about meningitis, so they did a spinal tap. She called. Scared (mostly because she knew it would hurt). She cried. I cried. There was absolutely nothing I could do but pray. That far away felt even farther away!

Last night she texted to say she had passed out and the school called an ambulance. Paramedics mentioned meningitis and whisked her away to the hospital. Here I am again…3 states and 18 hours away. Unable to do much. Hannah was scared about the possibility of another spinal tap.

Docs discovered pretty quickly that she has an infection that’s easy to treat and “flu-like symptoms”. The rest of her blood work came back clean, so she didn’t have to have another spinal tap. *high kick*

I hate saying goodbye. I also hate not being able to be there for my sick daughter. For the first 18 years of her life, I was the one who was up in the night with her, comforting her, cleaning up her messes, giving her medicine, praying with her. Now I can only lie here in my bed, waiting for the next text or phone call of information, praying that the Lord will somehow comfort her when I can’t.

You know what I’ve learned? He does.

Rest assured of that today, Mamas. He’s got our babies who are far away. They may be sick, they may be healthy, they may be struggling, they may be full of excitement, they may be making poor decisions, they may be making wise decisions, they may be sad, they may be light-hearted, they may feel lonely, they may feel loved. Whatever they’re feeling, whatever they’re experiencing, whatever they’re going through, they are not alone. The Lord is with them. He’s on their side. He will fight for them. Rest in that, sweet Mama friends whose babies are far away today.

 


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From My Heart to Yours — Calendar Session

Two weekends ago, my husband and I were able to get away to the mountains for a wonderful, relaxing time celebrating our 22nd wedding anniversary. It was glorious! We took drives, walks, sat outside listening to the birds, sipped tea and coffee, read (my reading was for pleasure, his for work, so for him it sounds way better than it actually was). We watched movies, visited Beaver Creek Village, rode the ski lift, climbed the ski slopes, enjoying amazing views. We played a little bocce ball, soaked in the hot tub, listened to some live music, enjoyed local food. Just to be away with each other with no distractions, no responsibilities. So. Good.

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So good to be away together.

Beautiful views...

Beautiful views…

Yet somewhere in the midst of all that good, free, lovely time, we remembered we did have a responsibility. One that involved our family. One that involved our time.

Many times a year, our small group from church gathers to fellowship, worship, eat, pray and play. On two of those occasions, we have to bring our calendars to sync up and plan our get-togethers. We don’t always look forward to these calendar sessions — with four different families (18 kids), it’s not always easy to find dates that work for everyone. But, we know how important it is.

So, when Brian asked me to bring my calendar to our weekend getaway so the two of us could have a “calendar session”, I groaned. How is it that we have to sync up our calendars???

If you have children who are involved in any activity outside of school hours, then you know.

We did it. We met. We had our little calendar session. Fall is my favorite season. But, this year? It’s a little tricky. B’s coaching, Aaron and Ben are in theater, Drew and Jake are playing soccer. It didn’t take long to figure out that three nights a week family supper would have to be around 8pm. Two nights are whoever-shows-up-will-eat nights. Early into this calendar session, B tossed his pen down and said, “That’s it. I’m quitting my job!”

Calendar sessions can be frustrating!

Calendar sessions can be frustrating!

That sounded enticing. At first. Then we realized that wasn’t possible. Nor was it what the Lord was moving us toward.

What we realized is this — there are seasons in a family’s life when even greater intentionality are required. There are seasons in a family’s life when creative planning are necessary. I put B’s games on the calendar, marking the dates that Drew and Jake would miss soccer practice in order to continue watching Valor soccer and cheering Daddy on. We planned for those late supper times (I’m not a fan of late-eating, but sometimes you just have to “take one for the team”). We chose a One Year Bible devo book to enjoy (hopefully) together at night.

When all was said and done, I was proud of my husband. If you know him, then you know he loathes the ‘p’ word. That word is rarely uttered from his mouth, and when it is, he stumbles over it like a stuttering school boy telling a cute girl how he feels. P…P…P…P…l…an. I can say it just fine. Plan. Brian? That word is his arch nemesis.

As I think back to my own childhood, I remember similar seasons. Due to work schedules and sports’ practices, our family meal became breakfast — we’d read the Word together, laugh, take time to connect. We found other ways to do this, too, but it looked differently, more than it ever had before. And that was OK.

I wish we could all just throw away our calendars, because if we’re honest with one another, we’ve become a people who are enslaved to them. But, I know that’s not possible. There’s no wisdom in that. But, what we can do is live with GREAT intentionality and be creative with our time.

May we be a people who make time with our families a priority. May we be a people who intentionally spend time together, connecting, listening and loving each other. May we be a people who creatively figure out how to be together. May we not be afraid to have calendar sessions. :)


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From My Heart to Yours — His Best-Laid Plans

When I get to spend time with the East Coast Shultzes, I find that I get to see life from a different perspective. Being around loved ones I don’t get to be around very often has a way of doing that. I married into the Shultz family and I sometimes joke that I married into “CRAZY“! But let’s be real — all families have a bit of crazy.

Our two weeks in Virginia were beautiful, filled with joy, laughter, love. It was also messy, filled with challenges, tears, discord. Gather together that many people with different backgrounds, upbringings, preferences, political ideas, beliefs and it won’t be all smiles all the time. Ha! Funny thing is, put my nuclear family in a Suburban together for a 24-hour trek across country and talk about messy! Whew..

I loved our time away. Good-food-eating, kayaking, tubing, cornholing (I’m sure that’s a real word, right?), fishing (not for me — YUCK!), porch-swinging, hammock-laying, reading, laughing, chatting. So good.

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For those of you who know me well, you know I am very talented at chatting. :)

Several chats from our trip were meaningful and challenging. One in particular. I was talking with a sweet sister who said, “I’m having to learn to give up my dreams…”

I put that ellipsis there because she said some other profound things after, but here’s where I want to sit.

She said this because her life doesn’t look like what she thought it would look like.

Wherever you are right now, whatever you’re doing, STOP! Mull that over for a minute. Think back to your childhood. What were some of your dreams? Think back to your teen years, high school days, college days. What did you think your life would look like?

If your life doesn’t look like what you thought it would look like…HOLLA!

We have some well-laid plans. But, let’s be real. Sometimes (a lot of times) our well-laid plans are not the best-laid plans. His best-laid plans. I had these plans and have these plans that seem to involve my happiness and “good” things. Health, financial stability, college graduation, a top-notch marriage, obedient children. I don’t plan difficult things — sickness, financial struggle, stress in my marriage, disobedient children. I don’t dream of tragedy striking. Yet, these things happen.

Here’s an example of something little from our lives:

We live paycheck to paycheck. We have for nearly 22 years (our wedding anniversary is next month). When I was a young girl, I dreamed of having a pool in my backyard. As I got older, I planned to have financial stability and I dreamed of having extra. A lot of extra. Some things have prevented that. Two of those things? Having a big-ish family (6 kids) and being called to homeschool our children (I don’t work outside the home and we pay for curriculum). I would not trade those two things for all the money in the world.

Let me tell you what I’ve learned. I had to let go of that dream of having extra. But, what the Lord had in store for us because of it was WAY BETTER! As we’ve waited and said “no” to things, the Lord has poured out His provision for us time and time again. The latest? A car. We went to a dealership because we really need another car. We looked around, pointed out what we like, what we dislike. We dreamed of owning a new car. We went home, sat on it, prayed about it. We decided now was not the time to add a car payment to our tight budget. But, we also couldn’t afford to lay down a chunk of change for a used car. So, we waited. And we shared. Husband B’s tiny 2-seater is not shareable, so there were three of us sharing our family Suburban (which is such a gas hog, by the way). Plus, we have a son in the mix, desperately wanting to get his license by taking that shared vehicle (and me) out to practice.

If we had extra, if we didn’t live paycheck to paycheck, we would have bought a car. But, instead, the Lord had something else in store for us — a family on Jake’s soccer team who had been looking to give away their older car to a family who needed it. As only God can, He orchestrated a weekend of guest playing together and a conversation about our plans for the rest of the day, which happened to involve a lot of driving around to various places in one shared vehicle. Bam! Another need met. All because we have to rely on Him and His timing. Rejoicing, once again, in the Lord’s provision.

A need met. Again.

A need met. Again.

I could tell you all sorts of stories about our good dreams that don’t come true, our well-laid plans that don’t turn out. Some are little things, like family arguments or having to forego buying new shoes for a time. Some are big things, painful things, like abuse, divorce, death. I could also tell you all sorts of stories about His best-laid plans that we only discovered after our well-laid plans fell through. After all, isn’t our God One who gives a “crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair”? (Isaiah 61:3)

We have a God we can trust. A God who is completely sovereign! It’s okay to give up our dreams. It’s okay to hold loosely to our plans. It’s okay to let go of what we think our lives should look like. I have a book that I think everyone should read — Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Path to Joy by Larry Crabb. You should read it.

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There is this joy in the journey that only comes when we experience what Yahweh has in store for us. Our stories aren’t just ones of health, financial stability, a top-notch marriage, obedient children. They’re also ones of sickness, financial struggle, divorce, disobedient children. Our stories are full of beauty and ugliness. They’re full of love and discord. They’re full of order and brokenness.

When our well-laid plans don’t work out, may we trust the One who holds all the best-laid plans in the palm of His hand, and who freely gives them to us.

 


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From My Heart to Yours — Respecting G’ma

I LOVE summertime — vacations, family visits, pool time, trips up to our Colorado mountains, eating just about every meal on the deck, laid-back, lazy mornings. My favorite time of year.

Last week we had family (my aunt, cousin, cousin-in-law, and their 2 little girls) visiting from Chicago. What fun! Such a great way to kick off Shultz Summer 2015.

My cousin has been visiting us in Colorado since we moved here in 2002. She was just a teenager when she first started coming, and I remember those early visits well. In 2003, I was already Mom to 5 little ones. She was still a teenager who wanted to do some “cool” things. I remember going to 16th Street Mall and the movie theater to see Legally Blonde 2. I don’t like the mall, and although I like Reese Witherspoon, the Legally Blonde movies were not that great (in my humble opinion).

Before we move on, there’s something you need to know about my cousin: Back in her teenage years, she did not like children. Did I mention we had 5 children at the time????? Not only did she not really like them, I’m pretty sure my cousin didn’t even know their names. She called each one “kid”.

Then something happened. This cousin of mine fell in love with a wonderful young man. I remember talking late into the night on her next visit. We talked about the Lord and love, she showed me pictures of her boyfriend, she asked questions and sought my advice. We talked about having children. We still went to the mall, but that’s the year I remember a change in our relationship.

To make a long story short, my cousin married that young man. One of our sons was the ring-bearer and I (full-blown pregnant with #6) got to fly with him to Chicago to celebrate. My cousin now calls each of our kids by name, she and her husband are a part of our family ministry, and…this girl who once did not like children has two of her own. LOVE!

It’s been an honor for me to watch my cousin grow into the woman, wife, mother she is now.

My cousin, her husband and two little girls.

My cousin, her husband and two little girls.

Here’s my encouragement to you…

This was the first visit my cousin’s mom (Aunt Sharon) was able to make out here since my cousin had children. My kids are now older — our youngest is 9. I’m in such a different place. I was able to sit back and watch. I noticed something that I think my cousin (and her husband) do very well. On several occasions, Aunt Sharon said something to one of her granddaughters (doesn’t really matter what it was she said). The minute one of those little girls did not listen to G’ma (that’s what they call their grandma. So cute!), my cousin (and her husband) swiftly reminded her that she needed to listen to and obey G’ma. End of story. I watched this happen several times.

For my cousin and husband, it didn’t matter what G’ma said. They may not have even agreed with everything G’ma said, but the message they sent their daughters was loud and clear — Respecting G’ma is important!

G'ma and her granddaughters.

G’ma and her granddaughters.

Respect is something that a lot of kids are lacking today. But, respect is something that should not be lacking in our children. It starts at home. With parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. May we be parents who diligently teach our children to respect authority, even when we don’t agree with that authority.

It was a good reminder for me, and I thought maybe…just maybe…it might be a good reminder for you. :)