Saturday, January 29, 2011

Where do you draw the line?

This is going to be one of those posts that I start and then hand off to Jeremy to “fix”. This is one of those posts that we write to get all the thoughts out of our heads... and then end up wondering if we should post at all. By actually posting we become vulnerable and we open ourselves up for judgment. But by sharing our thoughts (and prayerfully considering our words) maybe we can encourage someone else! At the very least, we can encourage you to pray for us.

We have been praying about adopting. The boys have actually been asking when we are adopting again. I love that they have the heart of God. We bought a 12 passenger van and Tyler literally said, “Check! One thing off our list so we can adopt!” It is no secret that God has given us the desire to add to our family through adoption. What some may not know is that as we have been praying we have felt God tugging at our hearts towards exploring domestic options before we venture overseas again. We had the opportunity to talk to a domestic and older child social worker last Saturday at the Bethany International Dinner. So our journey begins! On a side note: We also spoke with our International Adoption Social Worker, who encouraged us to call her when we are ready. :-)

Through talking with the domestic social worker (who we will call “Kay”) we learned that there are children who need homes in the US. (OK- we all know that- if only it were that easy!) Our challenge is to find a boy who is under the age of 4 that has special needs that our family can manage. Kay told us about a specific little boy who is 2 years old, in desperate need of a family, and is available for adoption NOW. We will call him “Fred”. This all sounds good... but Fred has several medical needs.

Here is where I digress. We are searching to find the fine line between what can we honestly handle as individuals; what we can handle as a family; and being selfish. How selfish? Questions start in my mind... easy ones... like “Will Fred disrupt my sleep?” and end with hard ones like “Will Fred need care for the rest of his life?” There are a ton of questions in the middle ranging from “Will Fred be able to go to the beach because of his medical needs?” to “Will Jeremy and I get to go on a date again?” to “How will Fred living with us impact the other kids?” and on to “Will Fred require so much care that it takes away time from the other kids?” The questions go on and on, keeping me up at night.

Another a side note- (and this is where it would be easy to start judging) we experienced none of these questions when we saw Jonathan's picture. We saw a little boy, who needed a family. Yes, he was missing his leg, but we somehow sensed we could deal with that. Our transition with Jonathan has gone so smoothly. Almost too smoothly. It makes us wonder if the second time will go as well.

When I look at Fred's face, I see a little boy who needs a family and love for him begins to grow in my heart. But I also see a list of needs most that I don't understand. Not understanding breeds fear.
We have requested extra medical information on Fred so that we can review it and have a doctor explain it to us.

We know God has given us the desire to add to our family through adoption. We are obeying Him as best we know how. We feel drawn toward domestic adoption this time. But we are learning that most toddlers in the USA system have either medical or emotional needs that make us hesitate in a way we did not with Jonathan. The toddlers that are considered “healthy” are being adopted by others ... and that is wonderful! Every child deserves a family.

So here we are. We're having trouble drawing the line. In admitting that, we make ourselves vulnerable. Will people judge us if we don't adopt Fred? Maybe. Will people judge us if we end up adopting from China again? Maybe. But none of that matters. In the end we are accountable only to God. And so we are left with the question- a basic question- that Christians have been asking for years, “What would Jesus do?”

  • I don't believe Jesus wants us to live in fear.
  • I don't believe Jesus wants us to take on needs that we are not qualified to handle.
  • I don't believe Jesus wants us to do something (especially adopting a child) out of obligation.

  • I do believe Jesus wants us to step out in faith.
  • I do believe that He will close doors and open doors, leading our way.
  • I do believe that He wants us to lay down our fears and follow Him. Trusting Him to lead us down the perfect path for our family.

We are trying to figure out where to draw the line between faith and reason; responsibility and recklessness; fear and courage. Please pray for us as we consider all these choices, all over again.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I had the sudden realization that my camera was full of pictures from before Christmas and that I needed to do something with them. I enlisted Amanda's help and she spent the afternoon editing 111 pictures for me! She's the best!

Yesterday, was Tyler's 10th birthday. As Jeremy mentioned it was celebrated over the course of about 2 weeks. Because we had to leave early for the hospital- we surprised him with breakfast in bed on Thursday.

This is Jonathan waiting for surgery. He actually liked his "special" hat and one of the nurses even found a mask for him to wear. He thought this was lots of fun... if he only knew.

I didn't take any pictures after surgery. Today was a little rough around lunch time. He moaned in my arms for about an hour before drifting off to sleep. He slept for about 4 hours and woke up feeling better.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Get that boy a popsicle!

Jonathan was a real trooper today. He was a model patient and is now home. He seemed to enjoy watching extra TV in the hospital which was a pleasant surprise to Kim and me. Out of all our children, Jonathan is the one least likely to be distracted by television. Typically, I'd consider that to be a strength, but on a day like today ... not so much. It was good that he was a little more subdued than normal today.

So, we're home. He'll be on pain medication for the next five days or so, but he seems relatively peppy all things considered. He's in the living room now, watching his siblings play Wii.

This is better than we had hoped! Kim and I had originally believed that he would be in the hospital for 23 hours ... so we're just glad to be home now. Funny, we just sat around the hospital all day but we are both feeling wiped out!

Incidentally, today is Tyler's birthday. We've been celebrating it (with a party here and a gift there) for about a week now. So "the week of Tyler" concludes this evening with a viewing of "The Empire Strikes Back" I am looking forward to it. I hope I can stay awake. :-)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You gotta breathe!

Tomorrow morning (Friday) Kim and I will wake up bright and early and take Jonathan to Holy Redeemer Hospital to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. While this is a routine sort of surgery it's still ... surgery. So, you're prayers for our littlest guy are much appreciated. Please pray that his surgery would go well, that he'd make a speedy recovery, and that his little four year old mind would be able to process all that is going on.

Originally, Jonathan was scheduled to have a different sort of surgery on this date. Kim had written about that back in November. But that "plan A" needed to be postponed. In December it was determined that Jonathan has "obstructed sleep apnea" and so the tonsil / adenoid thing takes priority over the other surgeries. I don't have a whole lot of medical knowledge, but this makes sense to me. When all is said and done, you gotta breathe!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Baby steps and the BIG ZAP

I began 2011 with the lofty ambition of teaching my children 20 Bible verses over the course of the year. Twenty. It seems like a good number to me: not too many, not too few. I jotted down in a notebook twenty verses that I'd like my children to know; twenty verses that I'd like them to have tucked away in their memory to help guide them through life. I have a couple of verses like that in my mind that make me think of my Dad, and I thought that perhaps I could manufacture that same sort of thing in my children's thought life.

So in the first week of January we worked on Proverbs 3:5,6. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths."

It's a good verse I think: full of meaning, applicable in many circumstances, and painfully familiar. I say "painfully familiar" because while I know the words by heart, I still struggle with their meaning.

Isn't that the way? So often simple spiritual directives take a lifetime to learn, apply and live out.

Here's what I mean:

One thing that Kim and I have wrestled with over the past year is ... what to do with the house? That one question has a whole lot of baggage associated with it. Do we build a costly addition to give ourselves and our growing children more living space? Do we move to a larger home? (if only we could afford it!) Do we seek after this material thing before we adopt again, or after?

Do we somehow hang spiritual significance on all this? In other words, do we say that when God provides us with this material thing then we will know it is time to adopt again?

It's hard for Kim and I to swallow that line of thinking. I mean, we recognize that over half of the world's population lives on less than $2.50 a day.

In light of that reality, who are we to pray for this so-called need? God has already provided for us materially; so much so that we get confused between needs and wants!

So .... what to do with the house? For the moment it seems that a sort of compromise has won out. We're not planning to move, and we're not planning a big costly addition in the next year. Instead we're pursuing some minor improvements that should allow us to make better use of the space we have.

Kim and I have peace about this. I couldn't help but wonder if we are leaning a bit on our own understanding here. But I have decided that we're not. From our perspective this is trusting in the Lord. We're trusting that when we have a real need, God will provide. And we're trusting that God will guide us through this new chapter of our lives, even though we don't have all the details (including finances) sorted out.

In short, it's a baby step. Over the last week our pastor has mentioned the idea of "progressive revelation" several times. The idea there is that God only rarely zaps a person with a big heaven-sent vision or drops all the resources a person could possibly want in their lap. Instead of the BIG ZAP, what we see a lot of in the Bible (and in everyday life) is God meeting us where we are, one little bit at a time; one day at a time.

That's what Kim and I are banking on. That's what we're trusting that He will do. He'll meet us at our point of need, one day at a time.

Baby steps ... Baby steps ...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Shazam! ... and Happy New Year

Happy New Year! We hope you like the new Shafer family blog, at its new address:

Ok.... what's the "SHAZAM" stuff all about? Well, Kim and I were talking about what needed to be written in this first post on our new blog address. Kim's words to me were, I believe, along the lines of "You'd better write something good."

"Ohhh ...." I said, "It needs to say Shazam!" (and then it was all downhill from there.)

Shazam, you'll recall, is a comic-book character who transforms from his mild-mannered alter-ego by uttering his name, which also happens to be a kind of magic word.

If only real life challenges could be addressed so easily! If only we could transform our own mild-mannered lives with a single magic utterance. Shazam! Poof! Presto! Real life is not so easy, I know. It's just as well, since I really have no desire to wear red spandex.

Still, Kim and I do believe in a super-natural God who continues to be in the business of (sometimes dramatic) real-life transformations. Consequently, Kim and I are coming into 2011 with some pretty high expectations. We want to share those big dreams of ours with you. But, before we go into any sort of detail I want to quote a bit from our most recent family Christmas letter. At least from this you'll understand that these ideas have been simmering in our thoughts and prayers for a while now.

Just a short while ago I wrote: "In the infant Christ, God made Himself a gift: a tremendous gift, a stretching-the-very-bounds-of-credulity gift. God help us, we want to give like that too. We want to live like that. God help us, out best efforts to do so fall so very short of God’s perfect example.

So, maybe we are a little crazy for asking 'O.K. God, what next?' But in the light of God’s crazy love for us, it seems like the right sort of question to ask!"

So, what's next? ... drum-roll please ... here are our two God-crazy ventures for 2011.

  1. If all goes as planned, I (Jeremy) will be going on a 2-week missions trip to Zambia this March. I am looking forward to this adventure!

    I'd be lying if I said I totally understood all that I personally hope to learn and accomplish in doing this. It seems like an awfully big expense, both in terms of time and in money. Still, I feel led to do it. (All this from a guy who is most uneasy about being led by feeling anything.)

    It is a kind of experiment I suppose. I want to find out what sort of a contribution an IT guy like me can make in a setting like this. There's more to it than that, I am sure. I am just waiting on God to find out the rest!

  2. Sometime after I get back from Zambia, Kim and I will begin the process of adopting again. We expect that "the process" (whatever it is this time) will extend into 2012. Hopefully it won't go beyond 2012 ... but only God knows for sure.

    Do we know where we will adopt from? Not really. We have a strong inclination towards China, but it is too early to say. Will we adopt another boy? Yes. Are we open to another special needs adoption? Yes. Have we got all this figured out and know exactly what we're doing? Not hardly.
So that's what's next. We don't share these things because we claim any special insight or endorsement from God (outside of that which is common to all Christians.) We don't share these things because we have everything all nailed down and planned out.

We share these things because we need the prayer and support of others. We also share these things with the hope that God will indeed do some amazing things along the way.

If He does indeed show up and do the amazing (and we believe He will) then we want to be able to share those events.

Our old blog was called "Journey to Jonathan" because it was all about Jonathan coming home to us. This new blog is called "A Kind of Crazy" because it is about our whole family and what God is doing in it ... even if it looks ... a little ... crazy ... on the outside.

Happy New Year!