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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This Storm

Sarah and Michael

So many of you have been praying for my family over the past two years and I cannot thank you enough.  God has taught our family so much about relying on Him when our boy Nicky spent so much time in the hospital in 2010 and 2011, teetering a few times on the edge of this life.  God taught us to pursue Him in prayer for healing and deliverance but also for peace and trust in His perfect will.  We saw God move in powerful ways, bringing restoration to Nicky's body when there appeared to be no options left.  

You prayed with us when we shared with you the news that our newborn baby, Michael, was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and was in need of open heart surgery to correct his tiny, incomplete heart.  Once again, God was teaching us to lean into His loving arms, to put aside our selfish plans and dreams and make room for His plans and His dreams for our lives.  You prayed and celebrated with us when God miraculously gave Michael "full range of perfect hearing" after being declared severely and profoundly deaf since birth.  What a privilege it has been to walk the peaks and valleys of this life with you.  

This past April (7 weeks ago) brought a trial unlike anything we've experienced before when "someone in our community" called Pennsylvania's Abuse Hotline accusing Sarah of the abuse and neglect of Michael.  Children & Youth Services (CYS) came to our door and interrogated Sarah for hours. The next day, the day of Michael's second heart surgery to help his lack of weight gain, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh also filed an accusation of Munchausen's by Proxy, indicating that Sarah was trying to starve Michael.  At that point CYS interviewed Michael's Down Syndrome specialist who went on record stating he believed Sarah was "willfully withholding calories from Michael."  This could not have been further from the truth.  (She was actually feeding him 300+ more calories per day than necessary!)

The words absolutely devastating don't begin to describe the level of pain and hurt this inflicted on Sarah's heart.  Sarah has given and done SO much, lovingly caring for our children at home and in the hospital.  To be accused of abuse, neglect and the withholding of food is ridiculous but also an extremely heavy burden to bear.  We were threatened with the removal of all three of our boys, but the option was given for my Mother to move in for the purpose of overseeing Sarah, ensuring she was, in fact, feeding Michael and not neglecting him.  Instance after instance, CYS ignored our requests to contact specific Therapists and Doctors who would provide information in support of Sarah's superb care for our children.  We felt from the beginning that this was an attack from the enemy and were moved to not only pray for truth to prevail, but to worship the Lord in the midst of our suffering, just like Job did when he said, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."

One month later, May 15th, CYS released my Mother to go home to Georgia, her husband, her job and her life.  The time she spent with us that month was life giving to us and I am, and have always been, forever in her debt.  Sarah's case was deemed "unfounded" which only means that at the end of the first 30 days, not enough evidence was found to prove her guilty.  We received a new case worker with intent to consider closing the case over the next 3 months at least.  THIS IS NOT OVER.  We covet your prayers.  Agents still make scheduled and unscheduled visits to our home to ensure Sarah is not abusing our children.  We try to take them as opportunities to show the love of Jesus.  It is however, a struggle not to feel like they are the enemy when they pull into our driveway.  We know the truth however.  Ephesians 6:12 says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."   

Lord, we pray for deliverance.  
Lord, we pray for truth to prevail. 
Lord, we praise You because Your ways are higher. 
Lord, we believe You have a plan not to harm us. 
But to give us a future and a hope. 
We trust in You. 

45 comments:

jenniferlogullo said...

We were so elated to hear of the miraculous healing of Michael's healing at your last concert, and are now devastated by this news. Keeping you and your family in prayer and inspired by your courage and unwavering focus on God and His goodness!

melinky said...

I'm so sorry for the pain this situation has caused your family, but I believe that through your faith in God, you will certainly be delivered from those who would do you harm. Blessings and prayers for you and your family.

Fatcat said...

I will pray for you every day. I have been through something similar but in our we were foster parents at the time and our caseworker already knew us and knew it was unfounded. I pray that your workers will be able to see the truth.

Ashley Latiolais said...

I can't imagine the hurt this has brought upon your wife. As a mother of five boys I can't imagine someone accusing me of neglecting them. I pray your wife will feel God's peace. As her husband I can't imagine how you must be feeling. Keeping your family in my prayers. You are both an inspiration to so many people. God bless you!

Kiersten Reiber said...

Aaron, I am praying for your entire family, that Jesus Christ will surround you and protect you. Please tell Sarah that I am especially praying for her....words cannot describe the trials that your family has endured over the years and yet, you continually use it to the glory of Christ and to bring others unto Him. You will be richly blessed in heaven one day. Keep yourselves immersed in God's word and in prayer with our Lord and Savior

Deedee said...

Aaron and Sarah, I will be on my knees praying for you all each day and that truth will come to light and the evil will flee from the light. I will be praying for strength, peace and for your needs to be met in all ways. I can't imagine how difficult this has been. May God be glorified through this and may He bind the evil one who seeks to devour and destroy. Your's and Sarah's faith is causing a stir in the spiritual realm so much so that satan is attacking. Keeping you in my prayers. Love you and your precious family! - the Freemire family!!

rennat said...

I know you've heard it over and over again but God will take this trial and turn it around for His Glory. As Christians we are satans target, he is trying to destroy us and we must stand and fight together. I will be lifing your family in prayer! God Will make this trail a Blessing...be still and trust Him.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Sarah and Aaron,
Experiencing your pain and joys over the past year has made me feel close to you-at least at heart. Michael is a child that puts a smile on my face each time I see a picture. He is a true delight!
My husband and I have had the honor of meeting Aaron at a few of his shows in the past year. In fact we prayed together twice.
We are the proud parents of four adopted children. They were placed with us, taken away due to a paperwork issue and then returned. We recently found out while they were in that other home they were molested. We were devastated! Now we have to try to heal them through Gods help.
If there is anything we can do or if you would like to talk to a mom who has a great ear to listen I'm here and would be honored to pray with and for your family!
Sincerely,
Rachelle in Indiana

Esther Thole said...

thanks for sharing this new painful trial. you will be in our families prayers.

Anonymous said...

You know I'm in your corner brother.
-JM

Jen said...

The Body of Christ stands with you Shust family. We will help carry this burden as our dear Lord asks us to do. You do not walk alone. Your Shepherd holds you so very close. Isaiah 40:11. We will war with you against the enemy. Our God is mighty and faithful to deliver. He already knows His plans for the Shust family and they are for good. Lord Jesus, please cover this beautiful family with Your love and comfort and deliverance! By His shed blood we claim Your promises!

Judes said...

Fear not tomorrow .....God is already there

Tammy Vital said...

Aaron I am so sorry to hear what has been going on. But The enemy does work hardest on those who follow Christ!
I had the pleasure of meeting You when You were in Manheim. I sensed that You are a true Man of God. You and Your Family will be fine!
If God is for Us who than can be against Us?!
I know all too well about CYS since I have 2 adopted sons through the agency. We too were wrongly accused. But when You know in Your heart the truth......Fear Not! God WILL see You through!

Many blessings to You and Your Family!

Diana said...

I am so sorry-I know completely how you feel Sarah-this happened to me. And the person who called it in said it happened in a little town near us that I was never at that day-but we were young and scared when they came to the house and agreed to having them come to our house several times until it also was unfounded. Anyone can call in to them and say anything they want and they'll go check you out and never tell you who it was-I understand they want to make sure the child is safe, but their are other cases where there has been documented abuse over a period of time and they leave those children in the home.
Sarah, friends, family, and anyone important to you know the truth and won't believe any of the lies-it is an attack by the enemy. I know it's very hurtful and hard not to be resentful, but don't let it steal your confidence and your love of taking care of your boys. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

teal915 said...

I've kind of followed you guys since your little one was born. I also have a blog www.teal915.blogspot.com/ My 3 year old daughter also has Down syndrome. We have never experienced the accusations that you are enduring, but my daughter had a very hard time gaining weight for a long time. She was in heart failure, but as her condition improved, she did not need open heart surgery but still struggled gaining weight. When she was a baby, I would nurse her, then immediately give her extra with a bottle just to make sure she was getting enough calories. Since I had to pump after each feeding, it took an hour each feeding, trying to keep her awake. I set an alarm every 2-3 hours all through the night to keep her feedings regular. It was exhausting, and I felt so alone, because I knew other moms weren't doing this. When she got older, she still had trouble gaining weight, and I had to do whatever I could to add calories: adding butter or cheese to everything, giving her rice crackers with Nutella on them, and pediasure drinks. There are many people, including me, who know what a challenge this can be and understand. If you're wife would like to talk, my email is lifeisbeautifulkamdyn(at)gmail.com Has your son been tested for other health issues: reflux, Celiac, thyroid disorder. These are all more common in our kids and can prevent weight gain. What about a milk allergy? I'm also a Christian, saved in 1999 when I was 17. I will be praying for your little boy to gain weight.

Tunafish said...

I praise God for your Christ like attitude =) It hurts to hear this and I'm so sorry that you're going through this. But praise God... I pray His love will never cease to flow out of you, your praise will never cease to be lifted up and peace and joy will flood your bones and keep you afloat in these darkening times. I thank God for the incredible blessing your family is to you and through you to many others =) Michael... is such a cutie! Thanks for posting man, I'm praying.

Rhonda Janes said...

Aaron. I can't even imagine what you guys have gone through. My heart goes out to you and your family. I know that God loves you guys so much and what a mature, God-given attitude y'all have to praise Him during all this. My prayers are with you. God is in control.

Jeff and Beth Gangel said...

Aaron and Sarah,

My tears are flowing as I sit at my desk and read your post. My heart aches for you! Your attitude in this could only come from God. The Enemy is throwing his full arsenal at you but God will be your Shelter and Defender. Beth and I will be in prayer for you daily. lifting up the shield of faith to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one (Eph 6:16-18).

Erika said...

Praying for your precious family- for protection, for peace of mind and for the truth to be clearly seen by all.

Jeremiah & Erika Gordon

Anonymous said...

Like Fatcat above, we have also been investigated for a false accusation with one of our foster babies. Even though we love our foster children like they are our own, I still cant imagine facing such a n untruth with 1.a biological special needs child and 2. Not functioning within the system already. I empathize with the depth of agony Sarah must be feeling. So many prayers for your family. God is good and faithful and brings all truth to light.
-Toccoa Classmates

Cate said...

This is so heartbreaking, but your faith in God and Christ will get you through! The sad part is people will do things like this to divert attention from themselves. My son was diagnosed in preschool with ADHD and I think as he got older it caused him to get depressed. When he was in Middle school he wanted to play in a band and began writing lyrics. A boy he was sort of friends with got in trouble at school, so he told the principle that my son was going to commit suicide because he didn't get along with his dad and he'd written a note,and DYFS came to the house, but nothing ever came of it.

I know how it must feel and will pray for you all!

Anonymous said...

Aaron and Sarah, STAND (you are WELL EQUIPPED to do so)! I write this with tears and heartache, as I too am going through litigation and falsely accused by my estranged husband of Munchhausen by Proxy of my six year old precious little girl, because he doesn't want to pay child support and is fighting for custody. Remember that NOTHING is hidden from the Lord and HE has sent his army of Angelic hosts to fight on your behalf! I LOVE YOU Shust Family <3 and join in prayer with you and for you as well! If G'd is for you...who can be against you?!

Erin Ayscue said...

Unfortunately, we, too, have a heart child, and have gone through this situation. One of our daughter's home nurses wanted custody of our child, and therefore filed anonymous charges with CPS against us saying we were (in our case) force feeding our child, and neglecting her. When in fact, she had an NG tube, we were working to get her to eat table food, and I was very, very sick at the time as I had complications from her birth. It took time for us to be cleared, but after much prayer and work, our case worker spoke to all our daughter's therapists and doctors, neighbors and family. They finally came back and cleared us, thank the Lord. We work so hard to take care of our children, to fight for our lives, for someone to allow Satan to use them to make our lives that much more awful is just like Satan and EVIL. Many prayers going up for you and your family. God will reign, never fear. <3

Sarah said...

Having little brothers with Ds and being close to many more kids with Ds, this just makes me sick.

Prayers!!

i'm beccy. said...

Praying for you. Praying that God will work all this together for your good. Praying that He hImself will come to your defense, and that those involved would see Jesus in you both and how you respond to this crisis. You are not alone.

i'm beccy. said...

Lamentations 3:31-36. He sees.

Laura Hodges Poole said...

Wow! You must certainly feel like Job having gone through all this. I am praying for your family. I couldn't imagine as a mother being accused of something like this. I'm praying for protection of Sarah against the enemy's attacks. God bless you both.

Lila N said...

My heart aches and I can not even imagine what your family has gone through and is going through. Prayers to your family and May God continue to hold you in His arms and protect you through all of this storm.

Anonymous said...

Hey Aaron, wow. It can be scary to be a parent these days, seems as though the parents that should be a concern are ignored and those that are great parents are watched. I can not believe someone does not investigate from both sides, it sounds quite one sided. I will continue to pray for you and your family. Micheal is such a super cute little guy! I hope to meet him someday! Sarah, you are doing an awesome job! A mom does not homeschool because she does not care about her kids. ;).

Anonymous said...

the above comment was from Naomi (Davis) F BTW.

Kristin Austin - Split-Site PhD said...

I hate that the system is doing this to you and your family. This is an injustice and you should not be treated this way. I hope that things start looking up for you guys. I will keep you in my prayers and good thoughts.

My homepage | Online PhD UK Programs

The Millers said...

Although it may feel as if you are passing through this storm alone you are not! Always remember that the Lord is not only walking with you but he is carrying you and going through it with you. Do not think as if this is a punishment it is not God loves you and he knows what's going on and he wouldn't put anything in front of us that we couldn't handle. We just can't do it alone we need his help for this and anything else that we may face! Remember John the Baptist when he was in jail and Jesus told him not to let his faith be shaken by what he may allow in other words. JESUS loves you and your family. You have been such a big inspiration to my family and I am so thankful to listen to your music it is truly the best out there!! And I figured if your music has helped me through rough times maybe what I can say can help you back as well. You and your family will be in our families prayers! GOD BLESS YOU!

Tammie Hull said...

Elated as well as moved to keep your family at the top of my prayer list. Amen, may truth prevail, may the enemy be demolished, may the Lord Jesus be Magnified, beautiful Glorified!

Chris said...

Hi Aaron, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

Stinky Donkey Dip said...

While going through my own personal struggles, none of which are as heart wrenching as yours, I have found comfort in your words and your faith in God. Thank you, this came at a time when I needed to hear the words that you spoke. Prayers to you and your family. God Bless...

Lindsay said...

you don't know me, but i have to comment. my cousin clued me in to your blog because of this particular post... we experienced something very similar with our third child. he was diagnosed with failure to thrive, and when his job took us to another state temporarily, we were accused there of intentionally withholding food from our precious boy. he was taken to foster care, my mom traveled across several states to spend a few months living with us (that measure didn't release him to our care, or hers... ) and the experience left us stranded in a strange place, forced us to use up all of our savings just to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table (we have our own house, so we were paying rent AND our mortgage), and each of us has been left with emotional trauma of some sort. it's a long story, but i'm happy to say that our case was closed in march and our son is ours again. we're back home, he's doing well, and with the exception of WIC and county birth-to-three services, we have no more contact with any dhs/dcfs agents. in our case, though, it was the hospital, a few doctors and the hospital socialworker that were the problem. the doctors in our home state and our caseworker, as well as the family therapist we were ordered to see, were all fighting so hard on our behalf.
oh, and i should add that there was a call to the abuse hotline before the doctors made one... someone from home that we meet with for fellowship meetings. while all the identifying info was blacked out on that report, it's pretty obvious who it was. we still meet with them, and it's a real struggle to keep a good spirit. but that makes us stronger too- praying for them and that they have peace, instead of confronting them.
please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you as you face this struggle and deal with the nghtmares of what's already taken place. there ARE people who have been in your shoes and understand- reach out to those who support you. hope to read good news soon, that you're finally "off the hook". :)

Vernita said...

This is cool!

T said...

Shust Family - I can only imagine a fraction of the pain you feel when you have been accused of mistreating your children. I pray for the person who called the authorities. If only she would have cared enough to know you before she caused so much pain but on the other hand, it is good that there are people looking out for children that may be abused. Unfortunately, they are not caught soon enough. Our Service Dept's that are supposed to be in place for good are sometimes the worst and they attack the wrong people. You are so right though that this is an attack from the enemy and he is merely using earthly vessels to bring your family pain and shake your faith. Thank you for standing so strong through this and sharing so candidly. I will be praying for your family along with all of the others that know your situation. God Bless you all but especially Sara at this time. Give her an extra long hug from the readers here that are supporting your journey and praying for you all <3

Anonymous said...

Aaron,
I'l be praying for your family! Many times I'll hear a song on the radio and really connect with it. I'll look it up and it is usually one of yours :) So today I was thinking, I must have many similar situations to Aaron Shust because the songs that are from deep in his heart are always so relevant to me. I stumbled onto your blog today and realized I do. My family has had many medical issues just like your family. Four years ago when I was 17, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had brain surgery. Your song "To God Alone" was popular and on the radio at that time and I kind of adopted it as my theme song for those couple of months. It was awesome to see the Lord work miracles in my body and life as I was looking to Him and trusting Him- knowing it was about His glory and not my ideal plan. Keep up the great work! Soon we will all be praising our father in heaven and fully healed!!
-Katie Holden from Tulsa, OK

Aaron Shust said...

Thank you for all your encouragement and prayers. As of Sept 3rd, Sarah's case is still open and we are being visited twice per month by our CYS case worker. He is polite and insists that we are the easiest part of his day and he looks forward to visiting us. The fact remains, we wish we only knew him on a social basis.

Michael is still not gaining much weight at all. Please pray for wisdom as we care for our child. He IS eating, he's just not gaining.

Bless you all.
a

Diane said...

Aaron and Sarah,
My heart breaks for you. I can't imagine the agony this has put you through, on top of already having aching hearts for your children. I will be praying The Lord reveals TRUTH to the case workers and that it is soon closed. I also pray God uses this somehow for His glory for we know that in ALL things God works for the good for those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28).
Your music has ministered to my heart. I saw you in Oroville, CA last year and got to meet you after and hand you a letter. Thank you for your ministry. I'm praying for your family!
Many Prayers,
Diane

Shirley-TFC said...

Aaron & Sarah, praying that complete resolution will happen quickly.
Interested how Michael means "Gift from God!" He has had a plan since before time with this little cutie.
Remember, "This present suffering is LESS THAN NOTHING compared to our future glory!!" Rom. 8:18
I'm sorry that there is so much that keeps coming your way. You have a lot supporting you in prayer as you so wonderfully go and share your heart in ministry. Praying you both will feel Gods strengthening.

Anonymous said...

It so unfortunate that you and your family are having to go thru this. To say that more oft than not the Dept of child dervices are so inept is an understatement. Case in point, my parents raised foster chilldren for the better part of their lives. One particular child came to our home at just a few months old. he was a very difficult child to place in an adopted home as he had frequent bouts with seizures. as he got older, as a smart child, he caught on to what was going on when prospective parents would pick him up and take him out for what I call a " Test Drive" , much like buying a car. he would throw fits and would be back at our home within half hour. He stayed in our home until he was 8 yo. My parents tried adopting him but were told they were to old by that time. The case worker was retiring and had to get him off her docket so she made a deal with a family who owned a resort in the Poconos. Take this kid off her hands and she would guarantee them a healthy new born, so the family took him,He was supposedly home schooled but really spend his life washing dishes until when he was a round 13 a girl working as a waitress told her mother about him and that family offered to take him in, and the adopted parents were quick to agree. I know this because that boy searched for years to find my parents by calling every person of our name in the state of NJ. These terrable case workers and investigators need oversight themselves never mind questioning a good family such as you are. I pray that you may once again resume your life as a family at peace.

Diane said...

Is there any update you can share? Thinking of and praying for you often.

Kavs said...

I am so sorry that you are going through this. Prayed and will continue praying.