And a Happy New Year

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.

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