Wow, I can’t even believe that it is mid-April already. As began to write this, I peeked back into my files to see when the last time I wrote and was astounded to find that it was nearly two months ago! Time sure does fly when you are on the road, and that is exactly where Doug and I have been nearly every week for the past two months. Busy doesn’t even begin to describe how we have felt, so I tripled that word for the title of this blog (okay, and maybe paying a little homage to the title of the Duck Commanders book “Happy Happy Happy”).
The end of February featured back to back to back speaking opportunities in Winona (1.5 hours away), Wausau (3 hours distant), and Spring Valley (a mere 20 minute drive). What made these talks a bit more challenging, however, was the 8-10” of snow that blanketed the area the night before. A rapid drop in temperatures and blustery conditions the following day created packed ice and snow on the roads, so the drive to and from Winona that Friday evening was miserable. Unfortunately, it was still a bit dicey at times the next day as we travelled to central Wisconsin. Thankfully, the Lord kept us safe and we enjoyed our fellowship with the various groups.
A quiet first week of March gave way to a fast and furious pace over the next four weeks. We journeyed thousands of miles – by air and land combined – to destinations such as Tucson, Las Vegas, the Milwaukee area, and Boston. In early March I had the honor of being one of 20 workshop presenters at the Set Apart Women’s Conference in St. Paul. It was a blessed two day event in which I had the privilege of meeting hundreds of women from eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Hot on the heels of this were two more engagements – a keynote for local political leaders at Trollhaugen ski resort, and a presentation to the faculty of the Osceola school district.
Next on the agenda we headed west for some relaxation in the 70 degree sun of Tucson, AZ. My husband is quick to remind me that we did have some work to do; I had the opportunity to sell my book at the Tucson Book Festival. But it was sure nice to escape the lingering cold for a few days. More engagements awaited us upon our return to the land of perpetual winter; a two day presentation to members of the Menomonie Countryside Cooperative segued into the fourth of four speaking opportunities to leaders of Thrivent Financial. The drive to and from the Milwaukee area was made more special by the fact that I was able to spend time with a dear friend of mine who is also a professional speaker.
Next on the list was a return trip to the desert southwest, this time Las Vegas. You may be interested to know that by this point our two cats were getting a bit perturbed by our escapades across the country. One night I came into the closet to pick out some clothes to wear only to find Jewel lying on top of my red suitcase – which I had decided to just leave out since I was using it every week - in rebellion, almost as if saying to me “No, you can’t leave again!” Well, sorry Jewel but we did leave, although this trip was only 36 hours in length. Since our return Doug and I have decided that if we ever speak in Vegas again that it will last a bit longer than a day and a half. Neither of us gamble, but a mere hour and a half warming under the strong desert sun is just not enough for me (in fact, I think that may be a Tasha Schuh record low when it comes to vacation sunshine). Again, Doug is very astute to point out that it WAS a working trip. Speaking of which, the work involved a keynote at the international conference of ForeverGreen/FG Xpress, a company that promotes health and wellness through several wonderful products. Again, I was overwhelmed and blessed to have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people from countries such as France, Austria, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Columbia.
Believe it or not we still weren’t finished! Five days later we boarded another plane, this time headed for the east coast and the historical city of Boston. Similar to the previous week my speaking engagement was that evening, but UNLIKE the trip to Las Vegas we added a couple of extra days to explore the city. Doug graduated with a degree in History from Michigan back in the late 90s so he was absolutely thrilled to have a chance to see some of the relevant sites that played such a key role in the early years of our nation.
Back to the speaking aspect for a moment … it was amazing! I spoke on the campus of Boston College University to an organization called Minutes for Memories, a group founded for the purpose of helping create lasting memories for young people who have sustained long term injuries. I was humbled to hear about the great things they do for kids in and around the Boston area, and to meet the selfless people who give of their time and abilities to make sure the memories are special. We were excited to get a tour of the city, which included several buildings from the Revolutionary era, the campuses of Harvard and MIT, Bunker Hill (the site of the first battle of the Revolutionary War), the route Paul Revere took on his famous ride, and Fenway Park (which my husband pointed out as being the oldest ballpark in America). An added bonus to our three day hiatus to “Bahston” (yes, there is a definite Bostonian accent) was the fact that we missed out on nearly 6” of snowfall, most of which was melted by the afternoon of our return. One final overnight trip awaited us a few days later - a four hour excursion to Mayville, WI. I spoke to a packed St. Andrew’s church, a crowd consisting primarily of youth. I mention at the beginning of my book that everyone has a story, and I am honored that some of the kids from Mayville shared theirs with me last week.
Can I just say again how humbled I am to have so many opportunities to not only share my story with others, but to meet such amazing people? In 2013 I spoke 74 times and this year is certainly on track to rival, if not surpass, that number. As fun and exhilarating as the past two months have been, however, my husband would agree with me that we are definitely ready for a break from the road. We do have a few engagements forthcoming, but nothing that will involve plane travel or overnights away from home – Lily and Jewel (our two cats) are very happy about this!
I do want to mention that we are working on a new look for our website, and are hoping to go live with it by mid-May. In addition to the updated appearance, there will be other features: new video samples, photos, information for event planners, and a store featuring various products we now sell (coffee mugs, 16oz. chiller cups, t-shirts, beanie hats, and of course my book). We are very excited about this and look forward to its debut next month.
Thank you for your patience through this busy time for us, and for taking the time to read my latest blog installment. Both Doug and I wish you a happy Easter!
Being interviewed in Tucson for the book festival
Speaking at ForeverGreen conference in Las Vegas
Doug and I in Boston ready to board the Duck Tour
I hope the first month and a half of 2014 has been great to everyone reading. It’s hard to believe that today marks my six month wedding anniversary with Doug. We have learned so much about each other, and I can honestly say that it just gets better every day! We took our belated honeymoon last month aboard the Royal Caribbean boat Allure of the Seas, and I must say that it was amazing to get out of the frigid weather for eight days (see my facebook page for a few pictures from that amazing week). Actually, I don’t think we have felt what it’s like to be above 32 degrees since we took off from Ft. Lauderdale the evening of January 20. I do have some good news, however, if you are growing weary of the cold weather as I am. To quote the words of my husband this morning: “just 31 more days until spring officially begins”. I, of course, reminded him that we had a 15” snowfall on May 2 last year!
I use the example of the weather and my husband’s response to bring up something that I spoke about this past week at Kasson-Mantorville Middle School in Minnesota; having a positive attitude of gratitude is something that doesn’t always come easy, but sometimes requires changing perspective a little. I shared this concept, along with a message of discovering your purpose and having a heart of hope, with grades 5-8.
First, let me just say that I love speaking at schools and I’m so grateful to the students and faculty at the K-M middle school for welcoming me. It’s always my prayer before speaking that the kids would take something home with them from my talk; that one of those concepts I speak on would echo in the hearts of those sitting in the bleachers. Now I realize in a crowd of 650 (split up into two groups) that not every single person will be affected the same way, and I’ll admit that I tend to get a little nervous when I see some kids start to fidget. But like any seasoned speaker I keep going because I know that if even one person is impacted in a positive way by my story then I’ve done my job. My message to the kids is: Yes I can! Following a rousing applause and ovation, many of the kids came up and shared their own personal stories – I was touched by every one of them.
The video link below shows a story that was featured by KAAL, the ABC affiliate in Rochester, MN. My sincerest thanks to everyone at Kasson-Mantorville Middle School for making me feel right at home, and for giving me a memory that I will never forget!
So how does this apply to you? It’s easy to feel sometimes that what we are doing does not make a difference, but it does. Be determined that you will always give your best: at your job, raising kids, or even in doing your homework. By doing so, you can assure that someday you will make a difference in someone’s life… A positive difference!
The week between Christmas and New Year’s was just a bit busier than normal for Doug and I this year. On December 26 we hit the road for Lansing, Michigan, home to the Rose Bowl winning Michigan State Spartans. It was also the home of this year’s Living Waters Christian youth conference, a gathering of nearly 500 high school students from various areas of Michigan, northern Indiana, and northern Ohio. The weather forecast – as given to me by my meteorologist husband – was promising and we enjoyed the 10 hour trek to south central Michigan.
We were greeted warmly upon arrival, as the Radisson Hotel lobby was teeming with students and adult volunteers alike. Gaining control of a concierge cart - even one with a flat tire - took some assistance, as did finding a parking spot for my van. Once we got settled in and had a bite to eat, the conference began Friday night with a rousing round of worship, led by a Christian rapper from Minneapolis named Agape. Prior to taking the stage that night I thought, “Wow, that’s a tough act to follow!” The kids were in great spirits and I was received with a thunderous welcome. The next 50 minutes were amazing, as my jokes were met with laughter, my story with undivided attention, and my singing with tears and eventually a standing ovation. I spoke each night, with a different message of encouragement and hope.
During the recreational time set aside for the students we were in the lobby of the Lansing Center (a convention center attached to the hotel by a skyway) selling books and other products, as well as meeting and greeting anyone who would stop for a moment. We were blessed to have a table right next to Agape, and in the course of three days had the privilege of getting to know this man on a more personal level.
Perhaps our favorite moments of the entire weekend, however, were the meals that we shared with various attendees of the conference. Prior to our arrival there was a large sheet of paper placed at the check-in table, allowing a group to sign-up and treat us to either lunch or dinner on Saturday and Sunday. We had four opportunities to sit down with four different groups of teenagers from various churches and locations, and it was those times that meant the most to us as we were able to closely interact with some amazing students. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that these kids are destined to be a light in this world! The theme of the weekend was ‘Shine’, and that is exactly what I see them doing in their communities, colleges, and eventually adult lives. Their final standing ovation on Monday morning was all I needed to break down into tears, knowing that shortly the conference would break up and we would all go our separate ways.
I wasn’t prepared for the way that God would use these young men and women to reach me. I arrived on Friday praying that I would be a beacon of hope and encouragement to these high school students, but when we pulled out Monday afternoon it was the kids who had touched me in a way I hadn’t foreseen. This picture is just one of the many amazing high school students that I got to hang out with and get to know over the weekend!
Looking ahead, there are many speaking opportunities that I have in the months ahead, but truly I will never forget the kids and adults I met the final weekend of 2013! I am more excited than ever for 2014, knowing that this is truly my calling and purpose in life.
What are some things that you are looking forward to in the year ahead? Are you anticipating great things for your life? Where do you need to step out and make some changes? I challenge you to make 2014 the best year to date in your life. Doug and I believe this will be true in our lives, and we would love for you to believe this as well. Thanks for reading, and let your light shine into someone’s life this week!
We are just two weeks away from Christmas, so I wanted to share a quick message with you. Over the years I have found myself getting caught up in the season, but not always in a positive way. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the crowds when you attempt to shop for the perfect gifts. The holiday season can be a time of reflection, but if you have lost a loved one during the past year then reflection can be sad, even depressing. Or, if you are entertaining family then you may feel the pressure to make your house the most immaculate on the block in order to present the perfect establishment for your parents or in-laws.
One of the movies that my husband and I will likely watch at some point in the next two weeks is Christmas Vacation. The premise of the movie is that Clark Griswold wanted to have a “fun old fashioned family Christmas” at his house. Unfortunately, in typical Griswold fashion everything that could go wrong did: the turkey was a disaster, the tree was burnt down, the monetary bonus Clark usually got didn’t materialize as he expected, a squirrel and dog ended up ransacking the house, and cousin Eddie kidnapped Clark’s boss! By the end, however, Clark realizes that Christmas isn’t about a turkey, tree, or money; it’s about setting aside differences and spending time with the ones you love and cherish the most. (see video below for reflection and laughter!)
Doug and I – as well as many of my readers – also remember that it’s about celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. With each passing year it seems that Jesus’ birth is removed a bit more from the Christmas season. If you are a Christian then the first six letters of that word ‘Christmas’ are the reason we celebrate. There is nothing wrong with giving gifts, decorating, and sipping on some fresh egg nog. Remember, however, that God gave us the best reason of all to rejoice. So please take some time to slow down over these next couple of weeks to enjoy the beauty of the snow, the colorful lights, a warm embrace from a family member, and the fact that Christ came to this earth to give us life!
Thanks for reading and have a great week!
The year was 1997. Bill Clinton had been inaugurated in January for a second term as president, Timothy McVeigh was convicted and sentenced to die for the Oklahoma City bombing that summer, and the blockbuster movie Titanic was released in December. Harry Potter’s first published adventure at Hogwarts reached bookstore shelves in England, while the United Kingdom turned control of Hong Kong over to China. In the world of sports, Tiger Woods became the youngest golfer to win the Masters at 21, Michael Jordan was still the best basketball player on the planet, and our beloved Green Bay Packers were trying to repeat as Super Bowl Champions (back when Brett Favre was still loved by most of Wisconsin!). On the big screen, Men in Black earned the most box office money during the calendar year, The English Patient took home Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and Cuba Gooding Jr. won Best Supporting Actor (I’m sure his uttering of the line “Show me the money” had something to do with that). Noteworthy number one songs on radio that year were Foolish Games (Jewel), Fly (Sugar Ray), MMM Bop (Hanson), and Tubthumping by the ever memorable band Chumbawumba. 1997 was the year we lost the following individuals: Gianni Versace, John Denver, Chris Farley, James Stewart (It’s a Wonderful Life), Michael Hutchence (lead singer of INXS), and Princess Diana. In fact, nearly two billion people watched the funeral of Princess Diana, while Elton John brought many to tears with his updated version of Candle in the Wind. Finally, it was the year you could fill your gas tank for $1.22 per gallon, or take in a movie for just $4.60 a ticket.
So many memories probably came rushing back when you heard some of those stats. For me, November 1997 was a particularly important month in my life. It was still early in my junior year, volleyball had just wrapped up and I was preparing to take part in my second theater production at Ellsworth High School. On November 8 one of my best friends, Sarina, was in a serious car accident. When I went off to rehearsal for the school’s production of The Wizard of Oz on the evening of the 11th, we still didn’t know if she was going to make it. If you have followed me for a while, or just know my story, then you know that fateful evening would bring about another tragedy for the small town of Ellsworth. The fall I took through a trap door on the stage of the Sheldon Theater would not only leave me paralyzed for the rest of my life, but also fighting for my life. My book, My Last Step Backward, chronicles that event, as well as the long months of rehabilitation that followed. It was tough. At times, it felt like torture. It was painful. The book also records my journey back from that accident, a fall that would change my life … for the better!
It is exactly 16 years ago TODAY since I was last able to walk. I have now been in a wheelchair as long as I was standing. So much has happened in our world since then; so many things have changed in my world as well. One thing that I have learned, however, is that when tragedy happens it doesn’t need to be the end – it can be a beginning. Last week I read an article about an Indiana man who fell out of a tree stand and broke his neck. He was in his early 30s with a wife and so much of life still ahead of him. He could choose to fight and make the most of the one life he had, or give up as I had once sought to do. Unfortunately, he chose the latter option. He had the doctors unhook the breathing tube, and he died five hours later. When I read that I was so sad. I was in that exact same position 16 years ago, wanting to die, not seeing any hope for a bright future - I reflect on November 1997 and remember that helpless feeling. Thankfully, God spared my life and gave me a second chance, and what an amazing ride I’ve had since then (no pun intended!). I know I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again … please don’t ever give up hope. I know what it’s like to be in the deepest pit of despair, but I also know that life can turn around for the better if you really want it to. My relationship with God has been instrumental in that turnaround for me, and I’ll be the first to tell you that He is ready to do the same for you too. He has blessed me with so much more than I ever thought possible. I didn’t see it 16 years ago, but I’m living proof today that it can happen.
Life is great – can I just say that! Doug and I are doing fantastic. It’s hard to believe that this next weekend will be our three month anniversary already, and I’ve never eaten as well as I have these past three months (Doug is a great cook!). I am marking the anniversary of my accident by speaking in Rochester alongside the very doctor who has been with me since that day in 1997. Doug and I have a couple of busy weeks ahead, with other speaking opportunities in Rice Lake, New Richmond, and Eau Claire. As always, you can check my calendar to see a list of my upcoming speaking engagements; go to the “News and Events” page on my website. If you are interested in having me speak at a church, school, organization, or conference please contact my assistant Pat Yandell (her contact info is on the “News and Events” page as well). My main keynote speech is titled “Little is Huge”, and I would love to share that message with as many people as possible in 2014. I am also excited to announce that we have some new products that are now for sale with the “Little is Huge” theme: t-shirts, beanie hats (very valuable item for these cold Wisconsin months), stress balls, key chains with an LED light and whistle built into them, and wristbands. We will be adding a new page on my website where you can go to purchase these products, so check back soon. If you know of someone who may benefit from an inspirational journey such as mine, please consider my book My Last Step Backward as a gift for them. Finally, to commemorate my 16th year since the fall, I want to remind you to go to my Facebook page and post a picture of something you are thankful for. We would ultimately like to have a total of 1600 things posted. It can be something as simple as being thankful for the pizza you are about to eat, or the brother that you disliked growing up but now are so happy to have in your life. To find out more please check out my November 2 blog below. I can’t wait to see what you are grateful for in this season of Thanksgiving.
As always, thanks for reading and for giving me such wonderful support and encouragement in this 16 year journey!
This month marks a very special anniversary for me. On November 11, 2013 it will be 16 years since my fateful step backward. I was 16 years old when I had my accident, so I’ve now been in my chair for as long as I’ve been without it.
You might think that these last 16 years were filled with heartache, disappointments, and regrets, but it’s been quite the contrary. As I reflect back, it’s the successes, triumphs, and blessings that I remember most. While this is difficult for many to understand, I gained much more through my accident than I ever lost. Sure, there have been many obstacles as well, but it all comes down to perspective; focus on the wonderful things around you, versus fixating on what you don’t have.
Happiness sometimes is thought to be a destination in life; “I’ll be happy when…” or “I’d be happy, if only...” One of the many things that my accident has taught me is that happiness is right here, right now. It is a choice that comes about in an instant, and it comes when you are thankful for what you already have in life.
This brings me to an exciting challenge I have for you and my Facebook community…
Not only is this month the 16 year anniversary of my accident, which happened when I was 16 years old, but my fall from the stage to the concrete floor below was also 16 feet, and I underwent a 16 hour surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester to fuse together my C4-C6 vertebrae. Yes, 16 seems to be a repeating theme here.
Yesterday, Doug and I were heading to Woodbury to do a little shopping and he just happened to mention that Christmas Eve was two months to the day away. WHAT?? Already!!! I suppose that shouldn’t come as a surprise given the recent colder weather here in western Wisconsin. In the course of thinking about the upcoming holiday season, however, I realized that it has now been over two months since we got married. Every week seems to absolutely fly by, regardless of whether we are speaking or not. One of the things that I’d like to share with you is to please never, never forget to tell the person or people you care about most just how much you love them and how thankful you are to have them in your life! We naturally do this around Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, but I’d like to challenge you to do this today, October 25, or perhaps in the middle of January when the holidays are long past and winter seems like it will never end. Lately Doug has been getting up early (about an hour before me) to pray and spend time with God. When he is finished he comes back into the room to wake me up with a kiss, whisper some very sweet words into my ear, and tell me how much he loves me. What a way to start the day! It’s usually the first of at least 20 or 30 times that he says that to me during the day, and I cherish every single one. Life is short, so let me encourage you to share your love with those special folks in your life as much as you can.
Since I last wrote we were on the road speaking at a fundraiser in Eau Claire, to employees of the Bush Bean Corporation in Augusta, and then to local branches of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Homeland Security in Bloomington, MN. It has been great to meet and chat with so many wonderful people at all of these events, and we are looking forward to upcoming speaking engagements at Winona State, Peace Lutheran in Baldwin, and Thrivent Financial in Black River Falls over the next 10 days. The initial months of 2014 are starting to fill in a bit on my calendar so if you are interested in having me speak at a church, school, organization, or conference please visit the “News and Events” page on my website and contact my assistant Pat Yandall. Also, be sure to check out my professional facebook page as we often post pictures from speaking events, as well as other words of encouragement. Finally, as I mentioned earlier, Christmas is just two months away and if you know of someone who may benefit from an inspirational journey such as mine, please consider my book “My Last Step Backward” as a gift for them. I would love to share my story of inspiration and hope to anyone who could use a boost around the holidays! That can be purchased on my website and I personally sign every copy ordered from there
Thank you for reading and I pray that you will say “I love you” to someone today!
Can you believe that we are officially three weeks into the fall season already?? The cornucopia of color has really exploded forth on the trees here in Ellsworth over the past week, as I’m sure is the case all across western Wisconsin. I just love this time of year, even though I dread what comes after fall. If you have been following my blog for a while, or know me, then you realize that I’m not a big fan of winter. Multiple layers are worn most days now, despite the friendly jokes that my husband makes. In fact, I lamented to him how much of a shame it is that we can’t just go from fall right back to spring (by the way, can I just mention once again how much I LOVE calling Doug my husband!!).
Weather changes that occur this time of year are the hardest for me – once the bleak cold days of winter are here my body actually gets used to it, so January is, in some ways, easier to handle than October. Changes happen not just in the seasons or weather, but also daily in our lives. My husband and I recently gave a talk in Eau Claire to a group of nearly 200 men. “Change” was the topic of Doug’s talk with the men (which, may I add, was outstanding. He may have spent his life talking about weather before this, but God has blessed him with a natural ability to speak about topics of life as well!). In particular, he spoke of the changes that he has gone through personally in his life – from being on top of the world as a college student to the deepest pit that the world can throw you in sometimes. He summed up his part of the talk with a call to action for the men listening. “You are natural born leaders”, he said, “created by God to lead by example and with power, whether it be your family or in the work place.” I just love his heart! He led perfectly into my part of the conversation, in which I share my story about how it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Later on I thought about this thing of ‘change’ more and how it happens to each and every one of us, sometimes daily. In case you missed it earlier, I love being married! Those of you who are married, however, know that every day is not going to be 100% blissful. There will be challenges. Doug and I have experienced this over the past couple of weeks. Since we did not live together before we were married this has been a time of adjustment, as well as learning about each other. There have been some disagreements, but I’m happy to say that we both realize the value of compromise and working things out quickly, rather than letting it sit and fester for days. Please also know that I mean what I wrote in my last blog – I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel it’s the moments of struggle that draw us even closer together than the good times do.
Speaking is going great. We have been all over the area, from Rochester to the Twin Cities, through western Wisconsin and even to West Bend on the eastern side of the state. There are more engagements coming up and being added, so please check my calendar to see where we are going in the months ahead. At this point I am still doing most of the speaking while Doug handles book sales and other “managerial” stuff. Looking ahead to 2014, however, we are excited for opportunities to speak together. As always, if you would like to book us for a speaking engagement please visit the “News and Events” page on my website for contact information. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of my book, please note that it is once again available for purchase through Kindle on Amazon. It was accidentally taken off for a while, so I apologize if you were looking for my book in that version and couldn’t find it. Finally, many of you have been asking about wedding pictures. We have just received a bunch of them back, so keep your eyes glued to my professional Facebook page for updates. I will include one now above. Thank you for reading … we’ll see you again soon!
Wow, where has the summer gone?! As I sit here writing this it is officially the final day of summer, leaves are changing, and the weather is certainly getting cooler. I feel these past four or five months have been a blur; speaking, book signings, trips, concerts, a wedding, a mini honeymoon, and now speaking again definitely have sped the shortened spring and summer seasons right back towards the colder time of year.
The last time I wrote (yes, you are not imagining, it was March!!) I was in the midst of the busiest speaking schedule I had yet to encounter. As the spring moved into early summer the engagements kept coming, and I continued to be as busy as ever. To say that I was loving every minute of it could be considered an understatement, but I was definitely happy to get a “break” once summer set in. With summer came an occasional speaking opportunity, but also some much needed time with Doug as we finalized our wedding plans. We returned to Ohio in July so I could crown the new Ms. Wheelchair USA. It was a memorable week of activities, great ladies, hot weather (which I loved by the way!), culminating in Ms. Wyoming winning the much deserved prestigious title. One of the hardest parts about this type of contest, however, is seeing only one of the women wearing the crown at the end because certainly ALL of them deserve to have that title. I know that they all have accomplished many things in their lives already, and even greater things lie ahead for them.
Now you may be wondering about the wedding. Well, if you keep up with me on Facebook then you know that I am now married to my prince! It was August 17; the day could not have gone any better. Beginning with sunshine and 82 degree weather, continuing with a ceremony that I could’ve only dreamed would go as well as it did, and culminating with a fun and memorable reception … August 17, 2013 will ALWAYS be one of the happiest days of my life. (For those who have asked we will have our pictures and our video back within the next two weeks, and will be posting some of them for you to see.) This past month has been a learning experience of sorts, as Doug and I continued to live apart right up until our wedding night. More on that is coming up. We then traveled to Sturgeon Bay - which is in Door County Wisconsin – for what we called our “mini moon”. Since August weather is still rather enjoyable in the great Northwoods, we decided to delay our actual honeymoon until the less desirable month of January (at least it is for someone who doesn’t enjoy cold and snow other than for the holidays!). At this point we haven’t made final plans, but a Caribbean cruise is at the forefront of our list of places to go.
If you have followed my blog before, then you know I like to speak briefly on something that either I have been personally going through, something that has tested my faith, or both. In this case I’d like to share a few words about a topic that I’m positively sure my husband and I will be speaking about in the future: living together before marriage, or in our case, not living together before marriage. Did you know that prior to the 1980's a vast majority of dating couples did not live together prior to getting married. It is only in the past 30 or so years that a majority of couples have made the decision to virtually act like they are married prior to taking the oath before God. Now please understand that I am not here to offend anyone as that is your choice to make, but divorce statistics from the past 30 years perhaps give some indication that living together before marriage does not guarantee success. All I’d like to say is that we were confident in our choice, and over the past month and four days God has been absolutely faithful in His response! I can't tell you what a joy it is for me (and I’m pretty sure I speak for Doug too!) to get to wake up every morning to my best friend and lover. I don’t think it would have been as fun for me if we had chosen to do this before August 17, as every day is a new and exciting learning experience. The best part, however, is that I appreciate him all the more for who he is and what he brings to our marriage (I LOVE BEING MARRIED!). Naturally in the months that we dated I learned quite a bit about him through conversation and just seeing him in the setting of my home when he would visit. But to us, this aspect of our relationship was special. It definitely wasn't always easy, but it was something we wanted to wait until our wedding night to share and enjoy in the subsequent months and years ahead (and let me just say it’s been AWESOME!!!!). I realize that our faith does play a vital role when it came to this choice, but we can both honestly say that if we could do it over again, we wouldn’t change a thing! If there are any girls OR boys out there reading this and perhaps feeling a bit overwhelmed by either the person they are dating or their peers to make certain choices, let me be the first to say: Don’t compromise who you are! If you feel something isn’t right for you, don’t do it! Don’t do what the world says you have to do. Be strong and take a stand for what you believe … you’ll be much happier later on that you did!
Speaking is underway again and our schedule is really starting to fill up for the remainder of the fall season. Be sure to check out my calendar (www.tashaschuh.com/news_events.html) to see if there is an event close to you, or if I’m available for an event you would like me to speak at. I apologize that the blogs have been few and far between, but now with the wedding in our rear view mirror and Doug here to help with other business activities, I anticipate a new posting every week or two so be sure to check back frequently. Thank you so much for continuing to follow me, and we pray that you will support us as we journey forward towards 2014 and beyond!
Okay, this is embarrassing that I got so behind in writing here. I did not realize it had been so long since I had written as my life has been so busy and time is flying by so fast! I guess that is a good thing, as I am doing what I absolutely love to do and feel that so many of my dreams are coming true, but I definitely endeavor to keep you updated and to be writing on here more so please accept my apology.
As for what I have been up to, I do not even know where to start! I think I have had the busiest speaking schedule that I have ever had and I love it! I have been speaking a lot at churches, youth conferences, women's luncheons, and schools. From February 16 to February 23 I actually spoke eight times! In that one-week span, I spent over 25 hours in my van (from Western Minnesota all the way over to Eastern Wisconsin), signed over 125 books, and even was awake one day for 22 hours, yet I would do it again in a heartbeat! Having this busy speaking schedule shows me that I truly am doing what I am called to do and it is so rewarding. I feel like I am on cloud nine and am so rejuvenated after each time I speak! It is awesome to see lives touched and people transformed by sharing my story and what I have learned in my journey. I am so humbled and honored to be in this position!
This past month of March I have also been speaking a lot: about 2 to 3 times a week. This definitely keeps me constantly on the go as I am finishing one speech and then spending most of my free time writing a new message for the next. On March 7, I had my first experience of speaking to a whole elementary school. I was nervous as I knew it would be difficult to keep the kids attention and to keep them interested especially as I am used to speaking to middle and high schools, but it was really fun and a great experience. I always love a new challenge! I also had another new experience of speaking at Jacobs Well church in Eau Claire. I think this is one of the largest groups that I have spoken to and it went so amazing! I spoke for all three services and when I did my book signing I ran out of books! That was also a first! Did I mention that I love speaking?!
Speaking of books, I placed my third order of books in the beginning of February, and I am already halfway through that order! That means that I have personally gone through almost 1200 books! The company that I self published through has been amazed at the sales and the support that I have received, so thank you so much for purchasing my book and for your support! I even had a phone conference with "Guideposts" publishing company of the possibility of them picking up my book, but am just trusting that God will work things out how they are meant to be. I have not heard anything more from them, but just the thought that they were looking at my book was wonderful! So we will see what happens! I have many more book signings coming up, so please check my calendar on the news and events page to see where I am heading next. I would love to see you as I have loved seeing so many of you already!
For spring break this year, I did not go anywhere warm, which was a first and kind of a bummer especially because winter is just not wanting to let go and leave! However, I got to spend the week with my three nieces as my sister and her husband traveled to the Dominican Republic. We had a great time watching movies, eating very unhealthy food, and even took a day to go to work with Doug. I love watching him do the weather and it was fun watching my nieces learn so much about how the nightly news is done. Being that they had no school I was worried that I would not know how to keep them entertained, but the week flew by and we really had a great time! I love being an aunt!
As for the wedding, we have been doing a little bit of planning, but with my very busy schedule it seems like it has been put on the back burner. Thankfully, we really are ahead of schedule so now really the most pressing thing that we need to do is decide on invitations. We have began registering, and picked out our tuxes, so things are definitely moving along in the right direction! Since we only get to see each other about a day and a half out of the week, it is hard to use that time for wedding planning as there are so many other things we love to do together. Doug has actually been going with me to all of my speaking engagements that are on the weekends. He has been a great trooper as he is had to get up some mornings as early as 4:30 AM to go with me. These weekends have shown us that we are definitely meant to be working together. We are very excited for our future and looking forward to working together even more after we are married. The best part about him is that after every speaking engagement he is my greatest supporter, encourager, and my biggest fan! Only four months and 27 days till the big day!!
In the midst of all of these great things, I have had some trials. I only share this because of the lessons that I have learned during this time and feel that it may help someone that is reading this. Without going into too much detail, I had someone working for me that betrayed my trust and really did some horrible things behind my back. Even though I knew some things that were going on, a lot more was revealed to me after she was no longer working here. At first I was mad, angry, hurt, and sad, and then I forgave her. Even though it was difficult, and I wanted revenge and an apology, I realized that if I was going to move on, and not be bitter and have hatred, I needed to forgive her and even pray for her to be blessed (which is really an amazing, peaceful feeling)!
Many times when we are hurt by others we want to hold on to unforgiveness so that somehow we feel that the other person is being punished and that they are suffering from our feelings of anger. The problem is, is that WE are the ones that are suffering and being punished! I once heard a quote that I have used many times in my journey, "Unforgiveness is like drinking a poison, and expecting someone else to die." When we have feelings of bitterness, resentment, and hatred we suffer more than the person that hurt us. Those feelings not only steal our peace and joy they ultimately begin to destroy us from the inside out. Medical research is even now connecting unforgiveness to sickness, disease and chronic illnesses. Unforgiveness is never healthy for us!
The reason why many of us do not want to let go and forgive is because we feel like then the other person gets off the hook from having to pay for their mistake. However, its exactly the opposite, because when you forgive is when you are the one freeing yourself from all of these negative emotions. Joyce Meyer says it best by saying, "I think sometimes people believe forgiveness is more about doing a favor for the person who hurt them, when actually, you are doing yourself a big favor. But the truth is, it’s because as you release the bitterness and anger in your heart, you are able to live with real peace and joy."
So today, I challenge you to look into your life and to see who you may be holding unforgiveness against. Who do you need to forgive? Let's determine to live every day to the fullest by having peace and joy, not letting negative emotions and feelings overtake us. This is when we truly live the blessed life… Where we can live above our circumstances and not let them affect us! I can tell you over the last couple weeks I've had so much peace and so much joy and am so glad that I forgave her… I know you will feel the same way too!
Thank you so much for reading and hope you are both blessed and challenged by my words!