Saturday, November 29, 2014

thanks and light

I was planning to write on Thanksgiving evening, but then life happened. Barnes came down with pneumonia so writing had to wait. But now he is actually in his own bed (for the moment), and there is a window of peace, so....

A friend once told me a story passed on to her by another mom. This mom would explain light and God and truth and love to her children in this way: imagine the darkest room possible. If you turn on a tiny flashlight in that dark, dark room, can you see it? Yes, of course. No matter how dark the room is, you can see the light. The light is always stronger than the darkness.

I have held on to and loved this for a long time. And this year, in contemplating Thanksgiving, this story kept coming to mind. On Thanksgiving morning this year, I immediately began crying. I looked at Andrew, my amazing teammate and life partner, listened to the playroom full of kids, thought about the new life growing, and said to him, "I feel like I have everything I ever wanted." We have so much. Truly. I have a million reasons to be thankful. But not every year has felt this way. And even this year, there are some crazy hard things going on. People I love that are hurting. Uncertainty on so many fronts. There are lots of reasons for the room to be dark. And so many people's rooms are so much darker than I can even imagine. But we have access to a light. When we turn our hearts toward gratefulness, even in the hardest moments, even if for just a split second, we find some light. You see, I believe that stopping to give thanks, intentionally choosing gratefulness, ignites that flashlight. And the flashlight, no matter how small, can always be seen in the darkness.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 instructs us to "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." My friends, that is quite a challenge. How many times do I feel more like cursing my situation than finding words of thanks? But I'm beginning to think that Paul doesn't say this as a simple platitude. Instead, maybe he is giving us advice on how to get through even the rough times. You see, while I know it is good and right to thank God, I don't think he really "needs" to hear our thank yous. I think, perhaps, the recommended gratefulness is far more beneficial to the thanker than the thankee. We give thanks in the good. We give thanks in the terrible. And either way, our grateful hearts shine in whatever darkness we find ourselves. Our thanks lights our way and lightens our burden. And the light is always stronger than the darkness.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


It's of my favorite baby to toddler things....Shep is saying words. For the longest time, he had NO INTEREST in communicating. He was getting along just fine with his grunts and whines. Then it started with dada, truck (tuck), and bye-bye. And now the list is growing. From what we can decipher, he has distinct sounds for duck, Barnes (Ba-Ba), ball, and dog. We have heard him say banana before, and the sitter has heard him say apple. I feel certain there are others we just haven't deciphered yet, as he is suddenly actually trying to talk to us.

I adore hearing his tiny voice develop. I love how each child's words are a little bit different. I love how proud he is when we tell him good job, how he loves to clap for himself. But there's one thing I don't love so much. Every time we try to get him to say ma-ma, he laughs hysterically. It's like his own personal joke. Not funny, Shep. Not funny.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

did you eat the baby?

So Frances is pretty fascinated with the whole baby thing this time around. She is asking lots of questions. Lots. Here's a sampling of her baby thoughts for the week.

At bedtime:

Mom: "Should we pray for the new baby?"
F: "Is the baby in your tummy? How's it going to get out? Does it come out your mouth?"

The next morning:

F: "Is the baby going to come out your mouth?"

The next day:

F: "There's a baby in your tummy, so yummy, so yummy.....Mommy, did you eat the baby?"
Mom: "No."
F: "Then how did it get in your tummy?"

Wednesday, before a checkup:
F: "Mommy, are you going to get the baby out today?"

I think by May this girl is going to have quite the education.

baby #4 at 12 weeks...already looking pretty cute

Sunday, November 9, 2014

expanding again

Dear friends, we are thrilled to let you all know that another sweet baby is on its way to our family. Baby Shafer #4 is due in late May, and we couldn't be more excited.

Before we were married and in our early years, we always said that we wanted four children. Four was our number. Then life happened, and I honestly never imagined that four was a possibility anymore. But through luck and science and grace, our family grew, and now we are expecting our fourth little one. And we are incredibly humbled by this news.

For those of you trying to do some quick math in your head, yes, you are correct--we will have four children under four years old. Yes, we know that many of you reading this will think we are crazy. But we know with certainty that this is a good thing. We wanted this baby, and we know that it will only add to our family, as each of our other three have. While having a big family isn't for everyone, it is for us, and we are grateful for the opportunity to live this experience.