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.

She always told us that she didn’t want a funeral. She wanted a celebration of life… so that’s what we did.

Loving Memories of Liz

Shawn Michael —  October 5, 2015 — 1 Comment

Spent three days going through photos and video this week to try and highlight the light and life that was Mom. Lots of great memories…

How To Say Good-bye

Shawn Michael —  October 5, 2015 — 1 Comment

How do you say good-bye to your mother?

68For me, maybe the hardest good-bye was last summer, when Mom and Dad left my apartment in Denver after hearing of the ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) diagnosis from the doctor. That was hard to swallow. And we all left that day in tears.

It is still hard to understand, and I will not know the answers here on earth, but I can say this because of the spiritual foundation that Mom helped shape in me: God didn’t need another flower in heaven. He didn’t need another angel in the choir. Father God didn’t take my Mom away. Death and destruction is not something that God is in the business of… rather, He is all about life and life abundant. And that is something I can say with full confidence that Mom experienced. It is the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy.

So, instead of dwelling on the loss of this week, I choose to focus on the incredible gift of life. Mom taught me so many things through her example:

She taught me what relentless love feels like. No matter what kind of poor decisions I made as teenager and young man, she always loved me wholeheartedly — always believing the best in me. If you talked to her, you might believe that I walk on water. She really knew how to love.

She taught me how to find a light in the darkest situations. Her faith never wavered. Not even when it got tough. She had a sure foundation, which was very instrumental in my own faith, and the faith of many others. She lived and breathed with a faith that can move mountains.

She spent her life loving God. From as long as I can remember, Mom and Dad got up early to pray and read God’s Word in the early morning hours. She has always had a habit of praying for, not only her needs, but also for the favor, protection and spiritual health of her family and loved ones. She modeled to me the power and importance of prayer and putting God first in everything.

She spent her life loving others. The Gospel in a nutshell. She loved and spoiled my kids like they were her own. Her siblings have shared with me how she cared for them as a sort of second mother. And she cared for her daycare kids like they were her own. Selfless to her core. She was made to love.

She spent her life speaking truth. The seeds she’s sown into my life and the life of my children and loved ones are irreplaceable. One of the more memorable ones she was known to always share was the simple phrase: “Push your love button!” If one of the kids was being grumpy or upset or mean — or even if it it was me — she would remind us all to “push our love buttons.” And if anybody within earshot started speaking negatively about any circumstance she would always remind us to “speak life.” Those two messages alone are deep enough to live our lives by.

Another truth she taught me that has shaped my life deeply: you can choose your attitude. If I were grumpy, mad or sad, she would remind me that I can speak to my innermost being and say, “Why so downcast, oh my soul?!” Maybe that’s why I’m smiling all of the time?

She taught me the value of keeping things clean and organized. I’ve never been as good as staying on top of this as Mom, but it is definitely a value. I’m at peace when the house is clean and things are put away in their place. If you knew Mom well, you know that she would always talk about sorting the toys so the kids would be able to play again.

She was a memory-maker. I have so many great memories of all the places we went and the things we did over the years.

And she was an equipper. She made it her mission to make sure I could reach and live my dreams. And I’m not the only one. There were many others she helped along their journey — the hands and feet of Jesus.

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 “push your love buttons”, People. And “speak life”.