Saturday, August 15, 2015

Blurry Beauty

Three years ago today - on August 15th, 2012 - three-month-old baby Hannah was diagnosed with Infant Leukemia and we were all plunged into the deep waters of a previously unimaginable trial. Every member of our household has been affected in profound ways. 

Our oldest daughter, Grace, now a Senior in college, wrote a powerful piece about her experience that was published this past spring in the Bethel University literary journal Coeval.  Reading it reminds me of the darkest days surrounding Hannah's initial diagnosis, when any attempt to look forward was shrouded in a dense fog of fear and uncertainty. And it expresses the joy we experience in having Hannah with us now, happy and whole. And it also points to the brightest Hope, regardless of our current joys or trials. 

Grace has given me permission to share it with all of you who have prayed and loved us so well through the past three years - such a long time to remain faithful through another family's journey. Each and every one of you is a gift to all of us! I hope to write more about our overwhelming thankfulness for all of you as we celebrate three years of survival since Hannah's diagnosis -- and also a year off of treatment in just a few more days. In the meantime, it means a lot to me to be able to share Grace's words with you, and I think many of you will appreciate remembering and pondering these things together, as we celebrate three years of miraculous life for Hannah.

Here it is, originally written in the Fall of 2014:

Blurry Beauty
by Grace Shull

            I don’t like waiting. This past August I ordered a pair of Chuck Taylors from an online shoe catalogue. They were to be my first Chucks, and I was eager to pull my hot pink high-tops from the long, narrow box in which I knew they would arrive. Estimated shipping time was about four days. I checked the tracking website frequently, following the shoes’ slow progress from Kentucky to Minnesota. It was highly unsatisfying. Movement showed up only a few times a day. I was forced to go on with my life in between my checks. Go out to feed the ducks. Check package. Wash my hair. Check package. Look at Face - check package - book. Check package. Check package. Check package.
            A little over two years ago, in the same month I bought the sneakers, my family received some shattering news.
            I remember where we were when my dad took the call from the doctor’s office. One of my sisters and I were in the living room with him, the afternoon light coming through the big glass window behind one of the couches. Our pediatrician explained to my dad what my mom, sitting in a small white exam room and hugging her youngest daughter against the shock, couldn’t possibly relay over the phone. I could see the fear in my dad’s face as he sat there and listened, his hazel eyes flicking back and forth as he tried painfully to grasp the doctor’s words. My stomach grew heavy as I began to understand, from my dad’s half of the conversation, how serious things were.
            He explained to us, after getting off the phone, that they had taken my baby sister’s blood and counted her white blood cells. They believed she had more than 200,000 cells per microliter of blood, which was extremely high. The most likely reason for this, the pediatrician had told him, was that Hannah had leukemia.
            Pain squeezed my chest, and I gasped, tears jumping to my eyes. No. It couldn’t be. Not my little sister. She was only three months old. She couldn’t have cancer. There had to be another explanation. They’d miscounted her cells. Something else, something weird and harmless, was messing with her blood.
            “God,” I prayed, “please let it be something else.”

            I said I hated waiting. I do. The part that really gets to me is the fact that I, as a human being, must experience time as a linear progression from one point to the next. Yes, I understand that this is necessary, given our creaturely limits. I know I’m not big enough to contain and comprehend all eternity at once. I get that. Sometimes one moment at a time is almost too much to handle. Still, following a timeline is hard. I want to jump ahead for a peek at what’s next, but I’m stuck here. It’s a little like flipping through a photo album, where every moment has its own snapshot, but you can’t look ahead. You can look back all you want, if you thumb through the pages of memory. Sometimes it takes multiple tries to see everything that’s there in those old photos.

            My mom and dad went with my sister to the hospital and began to watch and wait, hour after anxious hour. They tested her blood again, and the diagnosis was confirmed. Hannah had acute leukemia. The first blood count had been off - it had been much too low. When her blood was counted by the children’s hospital’s more sophisticated equipment, we learned that her true white count was over one million. A normal count is considered 5-15,000.
            Fear gripped my heart again when I was told that the enormous amount of white blood cells slogging through her veins put her at immediate risk of a stroke. It was crucial to get rid of some of the leukemic cells. They hooked her up to a big machine that pulled her blood out and pumped it back in, filtering out as many white cells as it could. They did this twice.
            I stayed at home with my nine other siblings, experiencing most of this from a distance. We began to pray together, pleading for Hannah’s life. My mom had rarely spent even a night away from home in the past eighteen years, so it was strange as we began to run the house without her. Several days went by, and she and Hannah remained in intensive care. The doctors managed to reduce the number of white cells in Hannah’s blood. The immediate danger subsided a little. She wasn’t dying now. We began to exhale some of the fear that had lodged inside. A prognosis was given: she was given about a 50-50 chance. The medical plan began to be explained: if Hannah’s cancer cells responded to chemo, we were about to enter into a grueling two years of treatment. An ache eased in to replace the original sting.
            Two years.
            One. Moment. At. A. Time.
            Two years.
            That’s a long time to wait.

            Another thing about waiting is that it’s usually not a sedentary experience. Maybe princesses locked in towers with nothing to do but brush their hair and look out the window can manage it, but I have rarely found waiting to be a passive activity. This is a big bummer, and a big blessing. If I had my way, I’d rather not do anything until I get what I want. But that’s not how things work. In the meantime, life must be lived. Time may crawl when I’m doing the laundry, running errands, eating dinner, but if I stop trying, stop moving, stop forcing my feet to slide off the bed every morning, time will drag like the trailing skirt of a widow’s dress. Crying is good. Collapsing onto my fading flowered quilt in exhaustion and telling God I can’t take another step is perfectly fine. But I then have to let Him hold me up and help me hobble forward. Giving up is not an option, because there is always hope.

            A moment in life is like a single photograph. When I’m inside that moment, when it’s a hard one, and the pain has buried itself behind my ribs, it’s difficult to see everything that’s going on. It’s difficult to focus on the glimmers of light and snatches of laughter because the darkness feels so real, so cold and empty and black, like a spot under the ocean that catches a bit of sunlight only on the clearest days. In moments like these, the fear and grief cut in so deep that I’m trying to see through tears. Usually the image is blurry.
            Blurry photos are hard to make out. The colors blend and I can’t tell exactly what’s happening. Gestures and expressions that surely mean something are just a smudge of motion. There are probably some smiles there, but they’re hard to hold onto.
            Life is a photo album with an end I can’t yet see. When my eyes dry a bit and my hands grow a little quieter, sometimes I rifle back through the old pages. And I begin to see patterns. Some of the pictures look clearer than they used to, even a few of the painful ones. When my brain unfogs for a minute, I can see that there is some beauty here, maybe even in the dark photo I’m in right now. I can’t seem to find it, but maybe - just maybe - it’s there. And I turn back to the current page and try to look around more carefully.

            Two years. A long time. Chemo was hard. Danger was never far away. Fatal infections were often possible. Relapse was never out of the question.
            Two years. A lot can happen. A lot did. A lot of things, including a lot of really bad things, also didn’t.
            Two years is a long time to wait. And we waited. We ate, struggled, laughed, cried, fought, floundered, and prayed our way through the waiting. The darkness was real. But God, the unconquerable Light, was there, too.

            Hannah is still alive. She is a beautiful, wonderful miracle. Her light brown hair is getting shaggy. My mom doesn’t want to cut it. If you put the hairbands in just the right spots, you can almost pull all her hair into three short pigtails. It’s not yet long enough for just one.
            She’s the only one of eleven kids without blue eyes. They’re “sea foam green,” as we like to call them. Sometimes they look almost gray. They sparkle when she laughs, which she does often. She is unique. She is special. We love her to pieces.

            It’s actually difficult not to take her current health for granted. Even after those two long years, it’s hard to remember to pray that she will continue to do well, that she won’t relapse. We think all her cancer cells were killed, but it only takes one. God forbid that there are any left.

            Hannah is still here with us, but there is another family at our church who just lost their father to cancer. I know their prayers for his life were no less fervent. I know their faith was no weaker than my own frail confidence in our faithful Savior. I know that God loves them just as much as He loves us.
            But He let their father die.
            It is still hard for me to look at that photo. It’s hard to see how there is possibly light in it. While a cancer patient’s still alive, there’s always at least that small sliver of hope that they can make it. But once a person dies, what hope remains? What is there possibly left worth waiting for?
            To find the hope in this photo requires looking at some other photos, too. And they’re actually photos that haven’t been taken yet.
            Did I say we can’t look ahead in the photo album? Sorry, I guess I wasn’t clear. We might not be able to see our own future photos, but there’s a “cheat sheet” album God’s given His children to grab whenever they’re confused.
            It’s called the Bible. It has some old photos - some really old ones - and some so bright and colorful that the printer inks of this world can’t even begin to mimic their vibrancy. The Promise Photos. There’s a huge wedding party in one of them. I’ve seen a dazzling golden city in another. In one of my favorites, there is a King, with snow-white hair and scars in His wrists, standing with lots and lots of joy-filled people around Him. The label under the photo says, “Death shall be no more.” Our friends’ father is in that picture - perfectly healthy and happy. There are thousands of people there.
            It’s these sorts of photos I have to look at, over and over again, when the pictures in our albums are too dark and fuzzy for me to understand. It was these that kept my heart from flying apart in those two years.

            So, the Chuck Taylors? Waiting so eagerly for them must be silly compared to the heavy waiting our friends must be pushing through, right? Of course the shoes are not nearly as important. But God is the King of all joys, both great and small. He gave Eve to Adam, and He also gave them daisies. He gave my family many joys in those two years of waiting. Light came in sparkles and in sunbeams, piercing through the darkness. Shoes can be rays of light sometimes, and so can laughing little sisters.
            The Chucks did come, and wearing them makes me smile. So does Hannah. “Soo,” she calls my pink sneakers.
            “They’re shoes, Hannah.”
            And I laugh.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I can't keep silent

No one who knows me at all will be surprised that my heart-felt conviction on the abortion issue is pro-life. And it’s fine if you want to call my position anti-abortion. That’s accurate.  I mean, I have eleven children whom I personally carried in my womb and lo and behold… each one of them is a separate, individual person. Each one has a genetic code different than mine. When they lived inside of me, our blood vessels co-existed side by side, but our blood did not mix. They never were a part of me, but a person in their own right, right from the start. Each child is uniquely created and it is obvious that they were created with unique physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual gifts. Humans aren’t interchangeable. They are not born as blank slates ready to be programmed like some sort of amazingly complex carbon-based robot, basically worthless until the programing gets installed at a later time. They are, I believe, created in the image of God, from the moment of conception. I have a lot of experience with understanding the relationship between a mother and a baby in the womb, and then the amazing experience of seeing those same babies keep growing up and up and up. I can’t help it – I can’t think of an abortion as anything else than the killing of a baby. Because it is killing a baby.

Probably many will be surprised that there was a time when I wouldn’t have described myself as anti-abortion. There was a time I would have said in my heart, and I certainly said out loud, “Well, I probably wouldn’t have an abortion myself, but…”  There was a time I definitely had the vague idea that “pregnant” was somehow different than “the existence of a very young Human Being.”

But, you know what? No one who performs abortions thinks that. They know it is a human baby. They know it will keep growing if it isn’t killed. Sometimes the baby is a little more valuable if it grows a little before it is killed. They know about the organs, the heartbeat, the value of the little bodies in the hands of people looking for human flesh to experiment on. Is that too strong? Does that disturb your day? Because it doesn't disturb the ability of the senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood to enjoy her leisurely lunch while discussing the process of harvesting organs from newly dead babies; how to plan in advance how best to kill them methodically, so as to preserve their most valuable organs and body parts, so the desired organs and body parts can be somehow gotten into the hands of someone who wants them for some price (definitely just a donation to cover the costs of things, right? We don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression, OK?)

So, I don’t care if this tiny human organ business is legal or not. Does this prick your conscience? Make you feel a little sick? Good. Lean into that. Feel it a little more and you’ll notice the light is shining brighter on what’s going on over there. It’s coming a little more into focus and you’re feeling sicker. That’s good. We can stand to feel it for a few minutes.  Do we really want to be a society that solves some very real problems by killing our most vulnerable individuals? Mostly poor. Mostly babies of color. Plus, most of our babies with known disabilities.

I’m not up for a fight to try to change the legal climate surrounding the abortion issue. I am up for just stating out loud, “I am anti-abortion and I’m sick of being mildly embarrassed about that.” I want abortion to be off the table as an option for solving problems. I want us to see what it is clearly. I want it to be unthinkable. I want the rarest of cases, where the life of a child and the life of a mother are on the line, to be treated with grief and reverence and support. I want us to be very Pro-Life. Pro-Women. Pro-Families. Pro-Children. Pro-Babies. I want us to get creative and loving and amazingly supportive of women in situations where abortion is presented not only as a good option, but, as an obligation. I want women who have had abortions, as well as women who have given birth to babies in the hardest of circumstances to be surrounded by love and support because we have all been a part of this culture, and we are all a part of creating what our culture will become.  

Lord, have mercy. Open our eyes, and our minds, and our hearts to the truth -- and show us where to begin.


Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
             “Awake, O sleeper,
                        and arise from the dead,
            and Christ will shine on you.”
                        Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.   (Ephesians 5:8-16 ESV)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sometimes, the driveway declares the glory of God...

Our older four children are away on a trip, so this week, driving the weekly trash to the corner fell to me. And since the oldest three boys home were helping me with the task, I couldn't leave the youngest four alone in the house. We all piled into the van. Adventure ensued as the kids, gloriously free from seat belts on our own long driveway, huddled in the back to make sure the two bungee-corded, wheeled-trash-bins continued to follow the van down to the corner. A minute later, the boys jumped out, set the bins neatly on the side of the road and hopped back in, laughing, and proud of their work. 

It's been good for them to be the "older kids" this week. 

A glorious evening. 

We decided to drive a hundred yards further to visit our 91-year-old neighbor for a few minutes. The long way round to turn the van back to home. 

Our neighbor and I watched the kids play tag, and run shouting around the house, as beams of slanting sun shot long shadows at their feet. Moments like this I always turn to smile at our neighbor and try to imagine him running barefoot in the grass at dusk as well. He was ninth of ten growing up in that house after all. 

On the way back home, I drove, blinded by the sun, back to the west then turned right to go up our long gravel driveway. Trees, and weeds, and all manner of wild have grown up along the left side of the drive and I was struck by the darkness of the path. Here and there a beam of light would break through and shine a patch of shining light upon the ground. But largely, night had claimed the drive. If anything, the few beams of light only intensified the darkness.

I slowed before continuing back home, and thought... "Too bad we have to take this path, with all that sun still filling up the fields." 

Immediately, I thought of the past two years. 

We had to take that path. It was the only road. And although the sun still shone as bright as ever in the fields, sometimes the glimpses of light we saw only accentuated the darkness and the length of the road, curving on ahead to points unknown. And now, once having gotten used to the dimness of the path, it's a little hard to believe we have the freedom to get out again and walk back out into the field and feel the heat of sun, and have even a minute to breathe again. We're shy and uncertain, even in the gentle evening light. 

I had someone send me a note the first year, urging me to write again, besides the CaringBridge reports. A kind note intended to encourage me. But, I just couldn't. I remembered all the promises of God, believed them more than ever in my bones, knew He was Good and True and Eternally Shining like the sun. Like the sun that shines the same whether we are blinded with glory facing West, or resting in the sunny field, or trudging down a dim uncertain road. But it's hard to speak that Praise out loud, or write it down, when hidden in the shade. 

Sometimes, even a driveway declares the glory of God.


The heavens declare the glory of God,
     and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
     and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
     whose voice is not heard.
                 ~Psalm 19:1-3~

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Infant Leukemia


If you are google searching for the terms "infant leukemia" and have come to this page because your child has just been diagnosed with leukemia, my heart goes out to you. Our baby Hannah was diagnosed in August of 2012 with infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with the MLL-r translocation t(11;19). She was 3 months old at that time (105 days old), critically ill with a white cell count over a million, marrow was 94 percent blasts, peripheral blood was 99 percent blasts… and we all faced a terrifying, very uncertain future. She is currently doing well at nearly 20 months and she has nine more months of treatment if all goes well.

I know that in the beginning, I searched the internet looking for HOPE, research, stories of other babies with leukemia, and connections to other families who were fighting infant leukemia. If you are one of those families, I wrote this post for you. I especially have been looking for a way to let parents know about the support group on Facebook for Infant Leukemia parents.

The Infant Leukemia Support Group is a private group for parents/guardians of infants diagnosed with infant leukemia (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Acute Myeloid Leukemia, MLL-r, MLL-g, mixed lineage, T-Cell, and other rare forms) and it is a good place to connect with other families. Through this group, families are often more connected and informed about how other babies with infant leukemia are currently doing (including side effects and advice for dealing with day to day issues common to babies on treatment) than some oncology groups, who may only have one baby on an infant leukemia protocol. With only 200 babies diagnosed each year with all these types of leukemia counted together, it can be hard to find each other.

The Infant Leukemia Support Group page can be found here:

Hannah's ongoing story can be found on her CaringBridge site which is I update there frequently. Hannah's home hospital is Minneapolis Children's and she is on protocol COG AALL0631. Her current treatment plan is "chemo only" and does not include plans for a stem cell transplant except in case of relapse.

Please feel free to contact us as well.

Blessings to you!
Sara (and Kevin) Shull

This picture was taken a year after diagnosis, August 18, 2013 -  a year into treatment.

Baby Hannah on August 15, 2012. We were told there was a good chance she would not survive the first 48 hours. There is hope! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In hope, believe that peace will come again.

Face to the sea, with sun upon my back.
     I lean into the wind… steady, strong, and chill.
          The stinging spray rouses my numb soul.

I stand, just stand, and look.

Water so vast, so deep.
      Who can grasp the volume of the depths?  
           It scares me… just a bit… to think of all that weight.

Waves crash hard against the shore.

Foam escapes, rushing up to grasp at freedom from the pull.
          One gasp of breath and drawn back down
                    to join the clear gray green.

The rhythmic peace,
        untiring sound,
               lulls against the danger of that strength.

Sand and rocks upon the shore,
       as far as I can see.
I crouch to choose among the pebbles.

I’m small as sand beside those waves that crash the shore.

         Yet, I know the joy of the chosen.
                I know this, though all around may seem but cold and fog.

Keep me safe, O my God. Let me not be lost along the shore.
            Forgotten, kicked, and sifted by the sea.
     May I be as one plucked up and held tight in your hand.
            A treasure for a purpose yet unseen.

And, so I stand, a witness to the wild dance of the shore.

The roar of wind and waves demands I listen.
           My weary soul obeys the call to rest.
     The setting sun, a warm wrap on my shoulders.
           The glow of home to come shines in the dusk.

Be still.

Breath deep.

In hope, believe that peace will come again. 


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Baby Hannah Irene

On August 15, 2012, we discovered that our youngest daughter–just three and a half months old–has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Her name is Hannah Irene and if you'd like to read about our journey with her and pray with us along the way, you can find our CaringBridge Journal here.

Maybe you will be encouraged, as we were, by the words a friend wrote to me and our whole family.

"In my darkest times of sickness, loss, and grief, the hope to which I clung is that God is Able. I love the story of Daniel's 3 friends, when facing the fiery furnace they said, "Our God is able to deliver us from your hand, even if he does not."

God is able to deliver Hannah from the hands of cancer, even if he doesn't. Every plan he has for her is good. No one but him knows the length of her days, and nothing can take her from this earth until all the purposes for her life have been fulfilled. "Every day ordained for her was written in your book before even one of them came to be."

May each of you find rest and comfort today in the merciful, mighty, and very able hands of Jesus."

We are held in His arms and blessed by the love of Christ expressed through the hands and feet, and prayers, of our dear Brothers and Sisters. Thank you to all of you.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

So Teach Us to Number Our Days

One day, several months after our ninth baby Zac was born, I managed to get my four oldest kids close to tears after starting what seemed to be a happy conversation.

"Do you know that Mr. Friend was the ninth of ten children in his family?  He's just like baby Zac!  They lived right there in that house where he lives now.  They had even numbers, too–five boys and five girls, pretty close to our family."

Oh, everyone thought that was wonderful.  We all looked at Zac and made him laugh.  We thought about 87-year-old Mr. Friend being a happy baby with lots of big brothers and sisters. And they remembered happy and funny stories, too, that he has told us about his growing up time.

We talked about that for a while, and then 6-year-old Ben asked "But, if he's got all those brothers and sisters, why does he live alone?"

"Well, he never got married and he loved farming, so he lived with his mother and father all his life and helped them farm until they died a long time ago, and his brothers and sisters all got married and moved to homes of their own.  He ran that farm by himself for over thirty years.  And now eight of them have died and he has one brother still living, but he (we've met him) hasn't been feeling well lately and can't come over to visit anymore."

Ben took this in matter-of-factly and went on his way, but I looked up to see my older four children standing there wide-eyed and silent.  They were feeling it in their gut for the first time that eventually they too will grow up, their lives will unfold and they will be separated by time and place and circumstance and some way or another all of them would die.  And Mom and Dad, too!

Lydia broke the silence.  "But . . . that's so . . . sad!"

And there they were.  Four children aged 15, 11, 10 and 8, near tears, looking at me and me looking back at them.  Thinking.

It's rare that I sit across the table from my old friend in that quiet house, that tidy house, that bachelor's house, where he lives alone– and not try to imagine that space filled with five young men and five young women talking and laughing while they eat their meals.  Their mother sitting to the side and watching her growing and grown children, catching most of their words while she turns to comment in Swedish to her husband.  In my mind the empty barn is filled again with sixty dairy cows and fifty, or sixty or one-hundred chickens and a dozen pigs are over in the yard.  The diesel tractors parked in his garage are gently replaced by three teams of horses - the six of them the only animals with names on the farm.  Except for the dogs, of course.

My friend grows young before my eyes as I hear stories from his youth–jumping from wood beam to wood beam on the lawn while his older brothers and father and friends built that big red barn in 1929 when he was 7-years-old.  Or later, strong from daily work, when he could carry ten-gallon-pails of water in each hand to the pig pen fifty yards away from the pump. Or back further when he was a small boy, and his sister fell through the soggy land shelf by the stream in the wild area and they thought she'd drown–but they got her out safe and sound after all.  Or when they'd all try to look busy doing something all the time (or at least keep out of sight) lest their dad would find some job for them to do, even the youngest set to work in the yard digging dandelions to get out every root.  Or when four brothers were called up to serve in World War II, but the local draft board decided that my friend should stay at home and help their father farm, so our country would have enough to eat during the war.

Can you imagine the joy around that table the first time they ate together after all four brothers came back home alive from that war?

He tells me where they slept when they were all still living at home - here, there and everywhere in the house depending on the hunting season or the harvest and who needed to get up at 3:00am and who could sleep in until 5:00 or even 6:00.

I look at all the neatly placed cookware on the shelves, and pretty plates set up above, and the place where the pipe went through the wall when they used an old cook stove and wonder if his mother could ever imagine a time when that house would be still, and quiet, and tidy, and chores all finally, finally done and the house–now home to just one aged son–would nearly echo with the lack of busyness.  A dish or two a day now washed in that sink, and one glass used all day long. And though the laundry is no longer done by hand, the machine is only needed once a week or so.

Five sons and five daughters and a man and a wife once occupied these rooms where my friend has lived every day of his life and where he continues to live since he retired from farming but not from life.  Just my friend and one older brother are left from that generation that built that house and farm.  But a patient  stream of nieces, nephews, neighbors and friends pull in and out of the yard through all his days.

And as I think these things, I remember that I really should not talk so long–for my own kids are back in our house around the curve in the road.  A house not quiet, or tidy and with many chores still needing to be done!  This is my time to go home and live it.  I look over at the ninth child born to his house, while I hold the ninth child born to my house in my lap.  Old, sparkling, blue-eyes are bringing laughter into young, blue-eyes from across the table top.  Laughing myself, I rise to go.

It's hard to imagine a moment, let alone day after day when my house could ever be quiet, tidy and chores all finally, finally done.

Yet, it is a certain thing that this life is fleeting.   Kevin helped me realize this from the start.  When we were first left alone with minutes-old, firstborn Grace in the hospital, we were both looking at her sleeping in my arms with tears in our eyes.  Then he quietly said, with his hand on her head, "Tomorrow she will be burying us." It was jarring. At first I couldn't even fit that into that moment, couldn't understand his words.  But I keep that in mind now that the days seem long, and the years seem short.   And as much as I want my children to grow up in the shelter and safe harbor of a happy and loving home, much more do I want their foundation and source of joy and security to rest upon unshakable and eternal realities so that when their life unfolds with its joys and trials and inevitable loss they will rest upon our sure hope in God.

O Lord, teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)


So Teach Us to Number Our Days was included in the Chapel column of The Old Schoolhouse ® Magazine, Summer 2011. My writing agreement stipulated that I had to remove this article from my blog until six months after publication. I'm happy to be able to share it here again with friends and family. 

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."  1 Peter 1:3-9

Treasure from the Junk Drawer
copyright © Sara Shull
•All text and poetry by Sara
•Art illustrations by Sara
•Photos by Sara or the Shull kids
~~~~All rights reserved~~~~

Bible verses:
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV)