Deanna and I were able to get away TOGETHER this year for Foursquare’s big Connection event in Hawaii. We had such an amazing time! We caught a luau with hula and fire dancers at the opening session and Hawaiian feast, ate great cultural food from food trucks and hole-in-the-wall restaurants, visited the beach several times, snorkeled, hiked Diamond Head, rented a boogie board and held each other’s hand and kissed — a lot!

I loved it. A lot.

Here’s some of our highlights…

Foursquare Connection was one of my favorites in recent years as well. There were 3,000 Foursquare pastors and leaders from 49 states and 51 different countries attending. I really connected with the worship team this year and the speakers all seemed to be speaking directly into my heart. In addition, I had the opportunity to catch up with the other district NextGen Reps for breakfast Tuesday morning. I’m looking forward to re-watching some of the general sessions the next couple weeks. So good!

Here’s their quick highlights video from the week…

I’m very blessed. Now off to Cedaredge, CO, for two weeks of summer camps!

What to say? What to say? Today was quite the day. At least in the way of a little adventure I went on with the kids this evening.

Zi and Kella

Zi and Kella

I take Monday’s off. Even after I’ve been away on break like I was this last week, with friends and family up in South Dakota. Especially when I ended up working out a bunch of camp details early in the week. I got a lot of help but still ended up taking a good day’s worth of time working those details out.

Yesterday I was wiped. It was the typical “I-just-got-back-from-vacation” and a long drive home weariness. The house needed some attention and cleaning and I was just too tired to mess with it. After church, I needed a nap and I took it. Then that evening, I had an awesome time with the students at Sunday Night ENCOUNTER, and then came home and went to bed early.

My plan, today, was to do some of that cleaning I didn’t do on Sunday. I was going to work on my bedroom — which has been an explosion of clothes for a few weeks now — but Deanna beat me to it, so I decided to focus on the main level. I had to do a big project for my district job in the morning, so I did that first. Then I cleaned up a lot of the stuff that needed attention in the kitchen and the kids came home as I was finishing up. They immediately said, “Dad, it’s your day off. Wanna play with us?!” 

I responded, “I play with you on the days I work, too”

They responded, “No you don’t!” 

Not true, and I stated the fact, but… “Yes, of course.” I will play with my children.

I must have been still feeling a bit weary and worn because we didn’t get too far before I lost my cool. It happens.

We had decided to go into Durango to find a park because I also needed to make a run to the grocery store. They were pumped and I was excited to get out and do some exploring/discovering with them — one of my favorite things to do. But we hadn’t even gotten out of Dove Ranch, checking the mail, before the two of them — Kella and Zion — were whining and arguing in the back seat (Bella stayed home to catch up on some homework). Like typical siblings, they can sure get into it sometimes, and I think Kella has been experiencing the “middle child syndrome” a little bit lately. Her patience with Zi has been wearing thin. But so has my patience in hearing my little loved ones bicker and fight.

I raised my voice and expressed how it was “NOT pleasant!” to be in the same vehicle with my two children who were treating each other so poorly. I said I didn’t want to hear anymore of it and that was that!

The drive to Durango was quiet. Until I heard Zion say to Kella, “Why are you crying?”

No response. 

Oh, Cheez Whiz! Good job, Shawn! This will be a fun trip.

Then I heard the sobs coming from the back seat. Hoo-boy. #fatherhood

As we drove into town, we passed a park. “How about that one?” No response. I look back and Zion had fallen asleep. Kella was obviously not feeling like talking to me. Great.

And then I receive a TXT from Deanna: “Something to discuss…” Which can only mean something important, I’m thinking. A few minutes later she calls with some really bummer news. But I’ll share more about that later… 

As I kept driving, I asked Google to take us to a nearby park. It took another 10 minutes, but before we got there it starting raining. Hard. 

I hear the sobs start up again. I knew that Kella was lamenting the fact that it was raining and that our park adventures might not happen. I kept driving anyway, hoping that it’d just stop.

The rain didn’t stop. It actually started raining harder. But that didn’t even matter because Google took me to a park without a playground! Oh, my Lord! Have mercy. I asked Google again, and it took me to a similar park a few miles away. Beautiful, but no playground.

That’s when I said towards the back seat, “How would you like to go eat somewhere?” I figured I had to come up with an alternate plan and, at the least, maybe get inside somewhere to wait out the rain storm. Thankfully, I heard a voice from the back say, “Yeah!” So we did.

Zi was a little crabby when we woke him up and was even more so — to the point of tears — when we told him it was raining and we couldn’t go to the park just then. Well, that was thankfully all made better when we got inside and got to sit down and just eat and enjoy each other’s company.

It’s the little things sometimes, huh?

After that, GUESS WHAT?! The light shone through all the grey clouds and darkness! It had stopped raining! I TXT’d Deanna and let her know we’d be a while longer than we had originally planned. We decided to visit Animas City Park — even though the newly constructed playground was not quite ready yet. I thought it would be fun to have them play on the xylophone instruments and explore along the river walk. And thank God, it was! Their smiles and laughter and running and skipping was immediate. Ahhhhh... THIS is what I had been hoping for! And they were getting along like best friends, too, which warmed my heart.

All that to say… I guess I could have just posted pics and said, “Great fun at the park in Durango!” And nobody would have been the wiser. But that would have been disingenuous. Much like a lot of selfies we see. Fake smiles. Set up to look casual, but very scripted. Down to the angle, lighting, backdrop, filter and quote someone has to come up with to go along with it. It makes me nauseous sometimes. Narcism at it’s cultural best.

So here’s my trying to be a little more genuine. But not too much, because I like my filters! SO SUE ME. Grin. 

I’m looking at these pics as I sit on my couch before bedtime and am smiling because I know that this little 3.5-hour trip to Durango and back will be looked upon fondly as the years go by. We had fun. We played! We discovered lots of cool new places to adventure. And when we got home, we all worked together to clean the house, too. So I got what I wanted at the end of the day, in addition to enjoying some quality time with the littles.

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If you made it this far, you’re probably wondering about the phone call? Yeah, we received some unexpected and unfortunate news today: when Deanna dropped off our rent check, we found out that our landlord/property owner is coming back to Bayfield and will be moving into the house we’re currently in at the end of our lease. The end of our lease is July 31st. 

For those of you that remember the story, this house has been a huge blessing to us. And God gave us everything we needed at the exact time. As urgent as this feels now, I am trusting that He will provide for us again. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years through my relationship with God, it’s that light shines through the darkness, even when it’s least expected. Just like the light broke through the dreary skies earlier on in our adventures.

Today was a doozy in a lot of ways, but it ended beautifully. And I’m trusting Him to keep proving Himself faithful as we move forward.

And a Happy New Year

Shawn Michael —  December 31, 2015 — Leave a comment

Shoup Family

Here we are at the end of another year. And “Whew!”, 2015 was… interesting.

We found ourselves unexpectedly in the midst of another transition — just short of a year after our whole family had transitioned down to Denver. We loved our church, our friends and community and when the reality set in that we were going to have to transition again, it wasn’t fun. At all. There were lots of tears.

Thank God for His hand on us through it all. 

I spent three long months asking, seeking and knocking during the busyness of camp season — hoping that God would speak clearly. We thought we had some good direction a couple different times, but God had something else in mind for us.

My friend from afar, Justin Matherson, had mentioned my name to Pastor Scott Kujath down here in Bayfield and when I first got the call, I wasn’t sure… I didn’t know if I had the capacity to go back into full-time youth ministry again. Thank God that I stepped out, and for Deanna, who encouraged me when I was feeling old, worn and inadequate.

The hardest struggle, though, was saying “good-bye” to Mom, who had been diagnosed with ALS in the summer of 2014. And, man, the time went far too quickly.

10690188_10152568452861592_8580553200285365410_nThe picture to the right with our three littlest kids with her was taken last Christmas, when everyone came to Erie to celebrate with us. We had Autumn and Cynthia home, my brother Todd, and his family, and Mom and Dad. Deanna’s family also made it on another weekend. The memories are grand.

Thankfully, I was also able to spend some time with Mom and Dad during the camp season (I took one week off before Dakota Camp and had the kids along) and some more time for Mom’s birthday week (again with the kids), a few short days before Mom was admitted to the hospital and spent several weeks there before going “home”.

I shared at her celebration of life service that she was a great spiritual influence in my life:

So how do you say good-bye to your mother? I don’t think I can and I don’t think I will.

She is so happy right now. She is so faithful. Loved the Lord so much — with all her heart. And that has shaped me and made me who I am today. And so I will do my best to carry on her legacy of loving God with everything that is in me and loving people as best as I can.

So it is with that thought that I can stand with faith, hope and expectancy going into 2016. Moving to Bayfield has proven to be a blessing all around. We’ve seen God’s hand all over it from the minute we started pursing the decision. Bayfield is a beautiful place, the people are beyond great, our kids have made quick friends, we love Pine Valley Church, and I love the staff and teams I get to work with and have immensely enjoyed diving head-first back into youth ministry.

My wife, Deanna, continues to be my one and only — the love of my life. I’m praying for her next steps as she has had to make this transition with several unkowns as far as her future, work and education. She serves our family endlessly and tirelessly and loves with a capacity that is supernatural. How she keeps putting up with me is beyond my understanding. That’s a high task. Just keep praying for us.

My kids are my pride and joy. They wear me out and fill me up all at the same time. Autumn and Cynthia are busy working up in Duluth, MN. Bella is already in her last year of junior high and Kella, her last year in grade school. Zion is enjoying his first year of kindergarten. Scrappy has been our loyal and loving dog since 2009, and for Christmas this year, Sugar joined the family…

Sugar, as you can see, is already bringing lots of joy into the family. And I think that is what is coming in 2016! And that joy will be my strength. Looking forward to all that is coming just around the corner.

Lots of great memories with Dad and our three youngest from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2015.