Have you always been given what you ask for? Have you always been given what you ask for right away? Have you always been given what you ask for in the way you actually want it?

We’re not always given what we ask for, simply because it’s not part of His purpose. We’re not always given what we ask for right away, simply because it’s not the right time. We’re not always given what we ask for in the way we actually want it, simply because His way is so much better than our way.

Even if His way is seemingly horrific…

It was Aug, 2014. I was alone on a soccer field at Pepperdine University, out for a jog, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was one of the most difficult trips I’d ever taken. I was there with Daughter #2, dropping her off at college. My time at orientation was almost over. It was nearly time for me to say goodbye to Hannah. My heart was absolutely breaking. So, I went to that field to run and pray. I wanted the Lord to protect my precious daughter. I wanted Him to surround her with godly friends. I wanted Him to give her everything she needed to do well in Chemistry, so that she could become the doctor He was calling her to be. I wanted Him to keep her pure, and keep her away from anything that was not from Him. So I prayed for these things.

And, then Hannah’s favorite song began playing through my earbuds.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

So, I prayed those words over one of the people I love most in this world.

Not long after pouring my heart out over Hannah, it was time to say goodbye. I wept as I reminded her face-to-face one last time to stay near to Jesus. He is a faithful God who can be trusted. I told her for the 20 millionth time how I much I love her. Then, reminded her how much He loves her. “This will be great. You will do well. You are safe in His arms.”

Saying goodbye and leaving her at Pepperdine University was one of the most difficult things this mama has ever done.

Then I joined the throngs of parents who were walking out of the gymnasium, weeping and waving goodbye. I got to the doors that were held open for all of us, turned one last time, waved and blew Hannah a kiss.

Father, she is yours. She’s always been yours. I am trusting you to walk with her closely.

What I was asking for when I was praying Hannah’s favorite song over her was kind of an easy path. I wanted the Lord to take her deeper with very little pain, constant wise-decisions, and an illumined path as far as the eye could see.

What I was asking for when I was telling the Lord to give Hannah what she needed to call upon His name, and to keep her eyes above the waves. What I was asking for when I was reminding the Lord that His grace abounds in deep, deep waters. What I was asking for when I begged the Lord’s sovereign hand to guide her, and for Him to remind Hannah He’d never fail her. What I was asking for when I cried out to the Holy Spirit to lead Hannah where her trust was without borders, to go wherever He would call her. What I was asking for when I called on Jesus to take her deeper than her feet could ever wander, and to make her faith strong in His presence. I don’t know exactly what I was asking for, but I can tell you what I wasn’t asking for…

I wasn’t asking that my daughter be raped. I wasn’t asking that she be bullied and threatened. I wasn’t asking that she feel lonely. I wasn’t asking that she feel so ashamed that she keeps silent. I wasn’t asking that she feel abandoned by God (the One I’ve promised her whole life is in control, is good and faithful and can be trusted). I wasn’t asking that she get sick with a rare, horrible disease that would require withdrawing from school, getting 5-hour infusions every couple of weeks for who knows how long (we’re at 3 years, 6 months). I wasn’t asking that on the one-year anniversary of rape, Hannah suffer a PTSD response, her first of many seizures, nearly dying on Thanksgiving Day. I wasn’t asking that she suffer from this seizure disorder for the next year, be in and out of doctors’ offices, take a trip to Mayo Clinic, endure countless tests on her blood, her brain, her thyroid, her heart, before finally being diagnosed with Conversion Disorder (this PTSD response). I wasn’t asking that she sit with a District Attorney, sharing her story. I wasn’t asking that she be living full-time with us again, trying to cope, trying to live, trying to trust, while all of her friends continued pursuing their dreams. I wasn’t asking that she “lose” years of her life, of her education, then watch as everyone she knew completed sophomore, then junior, then senior year of college.

I. Was. Not. Asking for any of these things.

I wasn’t asking for this.

I wasn’t asking for this.

I wasn’t asking for this.

I wasn’t asking for this.

I wasn’t asking for this.

I wasn’t asking for this.

I wasn’t asking for this.

But, this. This is where the Lord took our sweet Hannah. This was the path He laid out for her before the beginning of time. A path that was directly in answer to a mama’s prayers.

Our Lord called Hannah out upon the waters where her feet failed. He was there for her to find in the depths of the oceans. Hannah’s faith faltered, but He who authored it, has continued to perfect it – her faith stood, because HE was in those depths with Hannah. She called upon His name (and we called for her, standing in the gap when her strength was failing), and He faithfully kept her eyes above the waves. Those waters rose, but the Lord gave rest in the midst of the struggle, reminding Hannah time and time again that she is His.

His grace was abundant in those deep waters. His sovereign hand did guide her, even as failures and fears crept in. The Lord has proved faithful, once again – He has not failed my daughter yet. We stand sure that He never will fail her!

When I was praying that song over Hannah, I didn’t know what was coming. I wanted something very different than what the Lord gave. Yet, the Lord stood ready, saying YES to this mama. He said AMEN to taking our Hannah out to the depths. Sitting on this side of things, I see how He was answering – working and moving, never slumbering, never tiring of carrying our daughter through the depths.

The hard work of healing has not been easy. But, it’s in the hard that we have found Him deepening Hannah’s trust. The Holy Spirit has certainly led her to where her trust is without borders, and that is what I asked for. Her faith has been made stronger, stronger than I ever imagined it would be. And, even on the days when Hannah wanted nothing to do with the Lord, He never quit. He never gave up. He continued to pursue. He continued to show up. It was this presence, Jesus’ presence that brought her to the place she is today.

The Lord healed (and continues to heal) Hannah – she’s been seizure free since Nov, 2016. She took a step toward independence last summer, moving out of our family home and into an apartment with big sis, Laura, and Laura’s husband, Stephen. She’s been working to pay for her own car, phone, food. She’s courageously started back to school, Colorado Christian University (CCU) online, fighting back to full-time this semester. She’s getting married in just over a month.

I remember standing at her bedroom door more times than I can count between 2015-2018. I’d place my palm on that door and just pray. It was not how I pictured her college years. But, today, I call Hannah, and she prays for me. Today, I am being encouraged and lifted up by a 23-yr-old who has a deep love for Jesus, and an amazing depth to her.

This precious daughter of mine is now lifting me up.

A depth that came because the Lord took her to places I would never have taken her.

It’s taken many years of mama-hood for the Lord to get me to this place. Still, it’s hard. They’re my babies.

But, no matter what comes. No matter what our babies face. His way is so much better, even if His way is seemingly horrific. When we pray over our babies, whether they’re still in the womb waiting to make an entrance, or they’re in the middle of teenage angst, or they’re 30, doing well, or they’re 30 and have walked away from the Lord. When we pray, we’re entrusting them to the ONLY ONE who can be trusted completely with the bodies, minds, hearts, and souls of our babies.

I left my daughter at Pepperdine, having said these words to the Lord –

Father, she is yours. She’s always been yours. I am trusting you to walk with her closely.

He was faithful. He was good. He was true to His Word. He may have answered this mama’s prayers in hard ways, but now I see how astoundingly beautiful those hard ways were.

We’ve always prayed over Hannah. We will continue to pray over her, for her, with her. Even if His answers don’t come in a way we actually want.

I had no idea that as I prayed Oceans over my daughter, my Lord was saying, Yes and Amen! to everything I prayed.

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Reading time: 9 min

I know. I know. Some of you might disagree with me (I almost disagree with myself). But, these were the words Jesus spoke to my heart the other day.

I was headed to church early to serve as a greeter at the South Doors. I love to welcome faces I recognize, new-to-me faces, young faces, old faces. I’m a people person. I’m also a morning person. I was looking forward to getting up and walking out the door before any of my people were even awake.

I’m also a planner. The night before I prepped some food for me to take to church to eat after greeting duties were over. That food prep included two strips of heavenly bacon.

Bacon. Bacon. Where’s the bacon? I smell bacon! Bacon, bacon, bacon…

I think we all have a little inner Beggin Strips dog in us. If you don’t, I’m sorry.

So, there I was. First one up (per usual). Being the first one up has its advantages. Peace and quiet top that list for me. Most nights I lay my head on my pillow and think, We should move out to the plains, set up some tents, and charge an entrance fee. 

We’re an absolute circus. *eye roll*

Being the first one up also has its disadvantages. I open all shades, curtains, (and windows, as needed). I reset the thermostat. I start laundry. I straighten up from the night before, which often includes cleaning a messed-up kitchen.

I start the coffee.

I had grumbled to my husband about this on Saturday. Graciously, he listened. And on Sunday morning, he got up with me (he’s not a morning person, so I know this was no easy feat). He announced he was making coffee for me. It made me smile. He was trying.

I got ready for church. I was running a few minutes behind (also per usual). I whisked downstairs, grabbed my made-for-me-by-my-husband coffee, then opened the fridge to grab my already prepped, to-go breakfast. My banana and my banana bread were there.

I was frantically searching. “Where’s my bacon?”

I whipped my head around in time to see the guilty look on my husband’s face. “Umm…I thought that was mbacon.”

I eye-rolled and sighed big time. “Are you kidding me????? You are totally THAT employee. The one who eats everyone else’s food.”

I don’t think I was mad. Just absolutely irritated!!!!!! I didn’t even raise my voice (much), but I remember the frustration I felt in my heart as I turned away from him, and pointedly said, “I’m going to have to start putting my name on my food!”

And, with that…I walked out the door, on my way to kindly, lovingly greet my church-going family.

Since it was a quiet car-ride (hallelujah!), I had some time to process and pray. My praying started off as grumbling — Lord, it would have been easier for me if I had just gotten up alone, and taken care of myself this morning. 

*Note: for time’s sake, I’ve left out a few details (B pouring himself coffee in the last clean to-go cup as I came down to do the same, me being in a hurry and him being in my way, stuff like that). The stolen bacon was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

My grumbling continued — I could have come downstairs, gotten my coffee, used that to-go cup, gotten out the door on time, AND…

I WOULD HAVE HAD BACON!

Now that I think about it, it’s embarrassing how stuck on that bacon I was.

In that moment the Lord did His usual — gently, firmly reminded me of His Word.

What are you constantly reminding your kids to do?

Love Jesus. Love others.

Why do you remind them to do these two things?

Because that’s what you call us to do.

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” ~Matthew 22:34-40 NASB

I realized in that moment that I had missed an opportunity to love others. I was so caught up in my time, my needs, my bacon, that I’d neglected to love my husband.

*sigh*

Relationships are more important than bacon. 

It’s hard to admit that THIS is less valuable than relationships. 😉

The Lord simply responded, Yes.

It took a few minutes (it’s bacon, people), but I *finally* called my husband to apologize.

May we be a people who recognize the importance of living in relationship. May we be a people who do two things well…

Love Jesus. Love others.

 

 

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Reading time: 4 min

The other day, I became privy to a really funny, really horrifying plan being hatched under our roof…

One Shultz boy encouraging another Shultz boy to respond to our pastor’s “HE IS RISEN!” from our pew on Easter Sunday with “APRIL FOOLS’!”

Lord, have mercy.

I utter ^^ those words a lot.

The last time Easter fell on April 1st was 1956. The next time Easter falls on April 1st is 2029. Easter just happens to fall on April 1st this year. The year all four of my sons fall into one of two categories: preteen or teen.

This is the Lord keeping me humble right here, folks.

After you chuckle (or gasp) at what my boys planned to do to commemorate the fact that Easter and April Fools’ Day are one in the same, go talk to your sons. Make sure none of them are planning something similar.

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Reading time: 1 min