by Becky Shultz
It all began 23+ years ago when we found out we were expecting a baby girl.
Laura Elizabeth Shultz slowly made her entrance into this world, but quickly stole our hearts!
I remember being stopped while out for a walk or moving through a grocery store. Enjoy this time! It FLIES by, they said.
I would always nod my head in agreement, while thinking, Yeah. Yeah. Whatever.
It wasn’t long after…
I became that woman stopping mamas in the street, Enjoy this time! It FLIES by, I said.
Raising Laura has been wonderful. It’s been exhausting. It’s been delightful. It’s been exasperating. It’s been enchanting. It’s been bothersome. It’s been pleasing. It’s been disagreeable. It’s been beautiful. It’s been ugly. If you’re a parent, you understand.
The highs, the lows; the simplicities, the difficulties; the good days, the bad days…it was all worth it! There is nothing quite as rewarding as being a parent.
I could tell you story after story, share with you memory after memory, but as those flood my mind today, I’ll remember, yet keep my hands from writing them here.
If you’re a parent, take a moment to remember – think back to days gone by. Do you have funny stories to tell? Hard stories? Memories of your children that make you smile? Sit around the dinner table tonight and share those stories, those memories with your kids. Tell them your favorite things about them. Even if you’ve shared these things 100 times, make it 101.
Because those people who stopped me while out for a walk or moving through a grocery store were right.
In the blink of an eye, our sweet baby Laura went from gumming cheerios in a high chair to marrying her best friend.
So I sit here this morning, looking back, remembering, reflecting. And, I realize what a gift the past 23+ years have been. In particular, what a gift the past year has been.
When Laura graduated from college and moved back home, I had no idea how special this time would be. Her loudness and laughter were back, but gone were the days of childish chitchat (mostly), and here were the days of deeper conversations. More of a woman-to-woman relationship. She’s still my daughter (I’ll always be MOM), but now she’s become my friend. And, while the transition is not always sweet and easy, it is a beautiful one.
The day that Laura got engaged ushered in a completely new and different season. I can’t give credit to the older, wiser woman who encouraged me to “enjoy the process”, because I don’t even remember who said it. But, those words stuck with me every step of the way.
There were some ugly moments (we live in a fallen world, so there always will be), but let me tell you I absolutely enjoyed the process and what a gift it was!
The process looked something like this…
Laura, who has the gift of planning, set the plan in motion. She invited me regularly to the couch beside her to look at her Pinterest boards, give my opinion on colors and guest list, and to listen to her music selections. We traveled together to the bridal shop, Laura trying on gowns while I oohed and aahed. I sat in a chair off the platform that housed special bride-to-be dressing rooms, trying to take it all in, soaking up the moment. Enjoying the process.
In June, the Lord gave us a special ministry trip to Michigan. We flew out together (with Grandma & Grandpa), went on walks, worked side-by-side, figured out some more wedding stuff, and spent lots of time talking. I went to bed every night that week, said goodnight to Laura who was sharing the room with me, rolled over, let out a contented sigh and fell asleep smiling, so grateful for this time with my daughter. Enjoying the process.
We went on some hikes, leading up to hiking a 14er (my first) less than two weeks before wedding day. We put all wedding plans on hold and just enjoyed being together out in God’s creation, taking in spectacular views. Laura encouraged me every step of the way, telling me how strong I was. I just kept thinking, Lord, this is an absolute gift! (Actually, first I was thinking I was going to die 😉 , but in between gasps I was thinking what a gift this time was). Enjoying the process.
We spent a Saturday moving Laura’s belongings out of our house and into her new apartment – the one she would soon begin sharing with her husband. It was an exciting day! I watched as Laura showed us the place she and Stephen found, smiled as she told us of the plans she had for the space, and giggled as she excitedly unpacked wedding gifts that were a perfect addition to their place. I watched brothers work and laugh. And, there it was again. Another contented sigh. Enjoying the process.
On and on it went. A walk through the venue, the bridal shower, cleaning house to get ready for the East Coast Shultzes, working on invitations with family, airport runs as family and friends began to arrive. I kept hearing that voice tell me to “enjoy the process”, so I spent time intentionally stopping to notice all that was happening, treasuring moments, sighing contentedly. Enjoying the process.
And just like that, the day was upon us. My head swirled as I took in all those around us who were helping. A sister-in-law picking up monster bags of tortilla chips, a cousin ironing all Shultz boys’ clothes, friends baking and delivering, friends cutting multiple watermelons, friends taking pictures, friends and family setting up and tearing down, a sweet friend helping fix hair and makeup, a friend coming in as the DJ, friends serving food, a dear friend coordinating it all, keeping the wheels turning and the plates spinning.
We absolutely could not have pulled this wedding off the way we did without our friends and family. Their love and sacrifice were stunning. I stood to the side and just watched, reveling in God’s goodness to us. I smiled. And sighed contentedly. Enjoying the process.
To top it all off, Grandpa (my dad) got to perform the wedding ceremony. Be still my heart!
In that moment, I realized I had been feeling like Mary must have felt shortly after Jesus was born. We’re told that she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19 NIV). That’s what I had been doing. Treasuring and pondering in my heart. Recognizing gifts from the Lord at every turn. Enjoying the process.
My encouragement to you today, parents, is this:
Enjoy the moments, recognize the gifts, take pleasure in the process. You might not enjoy every moment or take pleasure in every part of the process, but be intentional to enjoy what you can.
And, sit back, take notice, breathe deeply of God’s love for you, treasure up the moments and ponder those good things all around you.
I have a tendency to hurry through things. To get stuff done. But, this season with my daughter has taught me to enjoy the process. May we learn to slow down, notice the gifts and be present. May it be said of me…
Becky treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.