Staring Down The Sun bio picture

    We were wondering if you were wondering what we were wondering........
    So this is us wondering and having fun doing it. My name is Zak. Her name is Karey. Married four ish years ago and living in sunny San Clemente California, we spend our time trying to enjoy our baby Johnny, friends, family, food and the occasional rousing night of Karaoke. Along the way we like to share the things we enJOY, so stick around and we will give you some primal recipes, favorite local spots or home projects that we have tried.

    Zak it up a notch and get Karey'd away...


    [Photo Credits: John Woods, Jered Martin, Jen Disney.]

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Shultz Family

These are our Christmas Card’s for 2014 that I designed and had printed through Smart Levels Media, the back highlighting some of our favorite moments and pictures… most notably, the March 7 one where Lauren got to meet JB in person for the first time.

::Let There Be Peace on Earth::

It’s our first Christmas with Johnny, and our first without Lauren. It’s bittersweet and hard and good and painful and joyful. It’s all of it at once, where joy and sorrow hold hands, where they blend into one and yet exist separately. If there is anything I have learned in my lifetime, it is that God is always up to something even when I can’t see it or feel it. I think that is the biggest piece of the Christmas story for me. I am also aching for the day His ultimate peace is on earth as it is in heaven where Lauren is right now. Until then, we will find ways to contribute bringing His peace to others… giving grace, compassion, empathy, a helping hand, the gift of His love. You can keep us accountable to that.

Merry Christmas.

And may the new year bring Peace in every heart missing our Lauren.

7 Series: Food // Days 2-4

I have a confession to make. I’ve already technically broken a rule and had some chicken that was perfectly seasoned with paprika and garlic salt… when all I should have used was just an oil and a little salt and pepper. On Day TWO, people. Here is my story: last week I baked some chicken thighs for a paleo pad thai dish and the recipe called for that seasoning and so I saved the extra for this week, not thinking it through quite enough. I found myself at what felt like an impasse, of choosing between breaking a rule or being wasteful (it would not have kept until the end of the fast or frozen well and therefore needed to be tossed if not eaten, dang it). I’ve read through the whole book already and knowing that part of my mutiny will be against waste, I went ahead and just ate it… legalism be on your way. And uh, I really enjoyed my chicken.

I noticed something funny, that I didn’t feel the guilt that I expected to run after me all day afterwards. It was a matter-of-fact thing that I went to the Lord with, and came back with a decision that added to my experience of this fast, which was a greater appreciation for flavor and spices and especially an awareness of how much freaking food we have to be thankful for. I mean, I’m asking myself if I need to throw away some perfectly good food in order to follow the letter of the law. Yet the spirit of the law didn’t match throwing it out. It feels silly to be writing this out, but hey, this is where I found myself. (Anyone else do this type of thing in their head??) Later in the day I was eating an avocado with some salt and pepper, and the flavor was amazing, and I just savored it bite by bite, thinking about how much nutrition can be packed into one tiny piece of produce. This fast is making me slow down with my food and think it through and I’ve needed that. My taste buds are more alive, and so is my heart. There are some growing pains, but I’m kind of past the point of caring about that. Pain is just fine with me if I know there will be some good to come, kind of like going through labor. There is something good on the horizon that makes that level of pain worth it… but please Lord, let that good come soon… you know that prayer? Giving up food options down to only 7 is no where near that level of pain and I’m not even starving for goodness sakes, and there are children of God in this world who are literally dying because they don’t have the same access to food that I do. Now my question to myself is, what am I going to do about that?


7 Series: Food // Day 1

This week I am joining with my Thursday night Bible study girls to do a week by week challenge of the fasts presented in Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. You can catch my review of the book here, but my summary is, read it. After I finished the book I didn’t want it to be over and I wanted to start every month of fasting yesterday, but the wiser ladies suggested we focus on one category at a time spending three weeks on each chapter, with one of those weeks put in practice. This is our week of practice, of fasting from our food indulgences and only eating 7 items of food over 7 days. Last week was our prep, and next week will be our review discussion. I am so excited to be doing this with my people I could burst. When I come across something that impacts me on such a deep level I crave those heart to heart discussions of what stood out to each one of us, of how they were hit with something I might not have even picked up on, of having someone else’s head in the same space as mine so we can say, “me too!’

Yesterday was my Day 1. I found myself feeling a bit resentful of the idea at first and not wanting to fully participate which I think is hysterical since I was so gung-ho about it. Zak and I have been on a Whole 30 train (no sugar, no grain, no dairy, no legumes) for most of the summer, and right now are actually on Day 38 out of our 60 day goal right now. Transitioning to that food lifestyle and cutting out every grain of sugar and processed food out of our diet was hard at first but now it feels really good. I finally don’t feel deprived anymore, so I find the timing of starting this food fast kinda funny, that it is time for another round of deprivation. I found such thoughts running my mind like, “I’ve already been fasting this whole time…” or “But I’m finally eating so healthy!” or “Don’t make me give up my coconut milk already! I just started liking it!” Ha. Clearly this fast is good timing. I thought I would have such an easy time, and here I am complaining more than my 8 month old.

The purpose of this fast is to make room for God to move in my life. It is when I get out of His way that He does his work, as He is always waiting so patiently for my invitation, He respects us all so much that way. So this fast is my invitation for Him to do what He wants with me, come what may. All I know is that I am done with the status-quo and keeping up with the Jones’s and after losing Lauren everything seems so frivolous now. This part of the food chapter struck me: “I am pierced by Ghandi’s astute observation: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Would Jesus overindulge on garbage food while climbing out of a debt hole from buying things He couldn’t afford to keep up with the neighbors He couldn’t impress? In so many ways I am the opposite of Jesus’ lifestyle. This keeps me up at night. I can’t have authentic communion with Him while mired in the trappings He begged me to avoid… He always gunned for less, reduced, simplified. He was the most fully and completely unselfish, ungreedy, unpretentious man to ever live, and I just want to be more like Him. It is as simple as that.”

The foods I’ve chosen are chicken, sweet potato, avocado, bell peppers, eggs, peaches, and coffee. Yes, I added coffee on my list, I figure since we are only doing 7 days it would take that long for me to go through the caffeine withdrawal (which might I add that Johns Hopkins has declared as a disorder.. so there!) and I would prefer to be mindfully present during this practice instead of the hot mess I would be in a constant fog and migraine headache. The good news is everything is still Whole 30 compliant so I won’t have to start over to achieve my 60 day goal, and Zak is fully supporting me and even made me dinner last night with just chicken and sweet potato fries. Part of the fast is you can’t add anything besides oil and salt and pepper so any doctoring the meal up is out of the question.

My breakfast was sauteed bell peppers in my scrambled eggs, topped with avocado and of course my black coffee. I had some peaches for my snack, some baked chicken thighs with bell peppers and mashed avocado for a dip, and then the dinner Zak made, all washed down with water. I felt satisfied and I didn’t think I was going to die of deprivation, so there’s that. The hardest part was starting it and looking at all of the food we’ve been prepping that is in our fridge that will have to wait and be frozen or sent to work with Zak. The spaghetti squash I baked that is ready to go, the pork that Zak slow roasted, the cucumbers and carrots and olives and pickles I love to snack on, the coconut milk I love to put in my coffee, all of it staring at me, challenging my commitment to this fast. What I’ve found though is that just making that first decision of the day to start is the hardest part, and then the rest of it is just staying on course. After doing Whole 30 for so long, it feels like flexing a muscle that is getting stronger and stronger, the discipline of staying the course and keeping the eye on the prize. Doing it isn’t the hard part right now. I say that on the off chance someone reading this is thinking of doing this, but scared of how hard it might be, so I am here to offer the encouragement that if I can do it, you can do it. I am not a disciplined person by nature so this is saying a lot! I’m sure that as the week drags on there will be some more hard parts, but I am okay with that, I need them and the awareness they will bring.

7 // Book Review

This book pretty much wrecked me. It is a follow-up to Jen Hatmaker’s “Interrupted” and so far everyone I have talked with has said her first book was a game changer for their faith and I have yet to finish it, but this sequel book just needed to be read first for me for some reason. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess is her family’s story of identifying seven areas of excess in their lives and how they “made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress.” (Amazon, synopsis.) Those are the areas that are focused on each month, and she shares her experience in a day by day journalistic format that is easy to pick up and put down even if you only have small chunks of time to read. (Hey Mamas, I’m talkin’ to you!) She is really funny, vulnerable, and warm, just how I like all my friends.

I am simply so inspired by her and her writing and this book lit a fire in me somehow. As you may know, this has been a hard season for our family and its easy to get stuck feeling like I’m going nowhere as grief takes its course and we do the hard work of the soul. I found it interesting when she shared that she was approaching this project as if it were a fast, an “intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God’s movement in life. A fast creates margin for God to move. Temporarily changing our routine of comfort jars us off high center. A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves. As Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ said, “It’s exchanging the needs of the physical body for those of the sprit.” … She later adds, “According to Scripture, fasting was commanded or initiated during one of six extreme circumstances: mourning, inquiry, repentance, preparation, crisis, and worship.

OMG. Mourning. Number one on the list. I find it really interesting that a fast feels like the perfect place to go in the midst of grief… I don’t know why, but it makes a lot of sense. Maybe it is something tangible to do while feeling at the same time like there isn’t anything I can really produce, but regardless, I’m ready for a mutiny one way or another. I’m ready for a fight against indulgence and ignorance and ungratefulness and waste. This life isn’t about getting as comfortable as I can, but about making a difference in the world and leaving a legacy for my kid(s) to do the same. Before we lost Lauren I remember being a little too focused on what kind of coffee table to get and which new rug would look best in our living room. That’s not a bad thing in itself but my focus was off, and I feel like this book helped me to find what I’ve been missing, as if I can see the road ahead for me a little clearer now. So, that said, read this book from where you sit now even if you aren’t ready to fast with her, it will do your heart and your head so very well. I’m going to use a cliche here and call it a MUST READ. For real.

You can buy 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker here.


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September 16, 2014 - 7:21 am

amy - All the books you’ve ever recommended have been my new favorite. Can’t wait to check it out!

September 16, 2014 - 8:11 pm

carla - Love your blog Karey. Love you!

Fasts in whatever format can be game changers. You are certainly leaning into your grief and that alone is powerful my dear. Lauren sees clearer than us all and don’t we know how she is smiling as together we lean in.