Saturday, January 21, 2012

thankful that God has confirmed many things for us lately

I know I've been MIA over here until the past week, but I thought I had mentioned our upcoming move before. Maybe I didn't, given the number of questions I've gotten about my mention of it in our last post, so here goes...

Back in May, I shared our plans for adoption with y'all. And at the end, I mentioned that we were planning on staying in our current home forever and ever, amen. Right after I posted that, I told Lee, "You know, now that I've declared this publicly, this means we'll end up moving." That's how it tends to go with us. God is concerned about shaping our hearts in the process, so going through the process of buying a home we thought we'd stay in forever and making renovation plans to add space was beneficial.


He has led us to change those plans. In June, Lee's sister and her husband were looking at homes in the area, and I started helping them. In doing so, Lee and I started finding houses in our price range that were larger and closer to all our frequently visited places (work, church, schools, etc.). We waffled about the idea for a while and, while praying about it, focused our efforts of wrapping up little projects here and there to get our house ready to sell if we did... or to enjoy ourselves if we didn't.

Long story short, we decided that we would move toward selling and wait to begin the adoption process until we're in a new home. A lot of factors weighed in, but one was my health. We actually expected to have the house on the market by October, but my body changed our plans.

In September, my knee gave out, a result of rheumatoid autoimmune disease (which is a term my friend Kelly is advocating for, since it's more accurate than "rheumatoid arthritis").

In October, I had knee surgery.

In November, the breathing problems I've had on and off in the past couple years became much worse.

In December, I was diagnosed with asthma, most likely due to RA lung damage though we won't know that for sure until I see a pulmonologist. (Hi, my name is Shannon, and I'm addicted to specialists.)

Some wonderful news in all this is that the RA damage is not continuing. My IV meds have it under control. The knee and lung issues are the result of RA damage that occurred in the year before I was diagnosed and the year after that when we couldn't start strong treatments because I was pregnant with Robbie and recovering from childbirth.

But isn't it neat how God confirms things for us? You see, one of the reasons for the planned move was that a three-story house for a woman who has a chronic disease that can affect her joints and lungs and heart... well, that's just not the smartest plan. It has become clear to us that we need a home that will work for us, even on my bad days. We had already determined that we wanted our new home to be wheelchair accessible so that we can host all of the families we get to know and love through our church's special needs ministry, and it could turn out that I need that level of accessibility someday too. (Given the success of current treatments, that's not expected, but the prognosis for RA was much bleaker 15 years ago and the meds that work so well for me now have only been out for that long, which means that long-term side effect aren't known. That makes it much more comforting that we worship a God who does know all that this life will hold, doesn't it?)

My recent health issues have confirmed adoption as the right next step for adding to our family too, because another pregnancy would require us to stop my meds. Any prolonged break in treatment makes it more likely for my body to reject the medicine whenever I'm ready to restart it, plus stopping meds means that the damage we've stopped would likely start again.

But the cool thing is that God set adoption on our hearts before we got married. Our premarital counseling surveys are in a box somewhere, but I remember that in response to a question about how many kids we wanted, we both wrote that we hoped to have a couple of biological children and then adopt. For us, adoption was never our plan B. It was and has always been part of plan A for our family. God has just used my health circumstances to confirm that.

So next step, get this house on the market next month. Then, sell it and find another house and buy that one and move. And then get underway with adoption plans.

Please pray for us. In my ideal world, we'll get an acceptable offer the first week our house is on the market and have time before closing to find the perfect-for-us home to buy so that the whole process will be as brief and painless as possible and we can move full speed ahead with the adoption plans. I know that's not the most likely scenario in the current housing market, so you can either pray that everything will go according to my ideal scenario or that God will sustain us through the different scenario He has in store. :)

And also pray for us as we research a tough topic related to our adoption plans. I wish I could share more than that cryptic comment, but I can't yet, except to say that God has drawn us to consider something we hadn't considered before and that we need to be bathed in prayer.

Thanks, y'all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

There IS a right choice for schooling your child.

When Lee and I were considering school options for Jocelyn for kindergarten next year, everything was on the table. Homeschooling. Christian private school. Secular private school. Traditional public schools. Magnet schools. Charter schools.

We sought to talk to parent friends of ours who had school-aged children, hoping to learn from their choices and experiences. What did we learn?

That there IS a right choice for us, but there ISN'T one single right choice that applies across the board to every family.

That's where this blog post title comes in. I do think there's a right choice for schooling your kid. I just don't think the right choice for my family and the right choice for your family have to be the same thing.

I had a great conversation in the church hallway with another mom last Sunday. We have made different choices for next year, but we were still able to encourage one another. It was nice.

And, sadly, I think sometimes that sort of thing can be rare.

I think as each of us are convinced of the right choice for our own families, we can erroneously project that right choice onto other families. We live in a culture that increasingly preaches "what's right for you isn't right for me." And while that relativism can be dangerous in many areas, I think we need a healthy dose of it when we enter the slippery territory of comparing parenting choices that aren't laid out in scripture.

Are all parents responsible for teaching the truth of Christ to their kids and discipling them in God's word? Yes.

Will that happen in the same ways, at the same times, and through the same means in every family? No.

And what choice have we made? Well, I wish I had an answer. We are participating in the public school choice process, and we know which school we would like. We also know that we really, really, really don't like the other options. If we get the school we'd like, then Jocelyn will probably start in public school in the fall. If we get our choices two through five, we don't feel comfortable sending her to those. In that case, we'll apply for a transfer - listing our number one school as well as another one that isn't an option for us right now - and then, if necessary, go through the appeal process. (We are planning to move this year, but our number one choice would be the same, no matter where we live, because of the Spanish language program it offers. In other areas, though, we could have applied for that school as a magnet program last month, whereas that wasn't an option in our area since it's on our proximity list instead.)

(Let me pause our regularly scheduled program to explain: Our oh-so-helpful unbalanced ridiculous ignorant school board put a plan in place that gives each family a list of schools in proximity to their local address, a system that under the guise of "neighborhood schools" ensures that kids in each neighborhood will likely be divided among many schools. They've done this while also failing to communicate details clearly so that only the most educated and informed parents understand the process. I could continue on that rant, but let's get back to the process... For kindergarteners, we each have to rank at least five schools in order of preference. Our address's list only includes five schools, though, so I have to rank all our options. The choice period opened yesterday, but it doesn't end until late February, so we won't know anything for a while. The magnet school selection period was in December and those families have been notified, but any school on your address's proximity list doesn't appear as a magnet option for your family, even if it is a magnet option for other addresses.)

Homeschooling? Honestly, that's where we thought we'd end up. But now? We're open to it, especially if Jocelyn gets placed in a school we don't like and if none of our other options (including a couple of charter school lotteries we're considering) work out, but it seems that God is leading us toward public schooling. We aren't closing the homeschooling door with absolute certainty, but due to my health and a few other reasons, that's not the direction we expect to go.

And private school? Setting aside financial concerns, we've decided that we're not comfortable sending our kids to a school in which kids with disabilities aren't welcome, and that's the reality for most of the private school options in our area and all of the ones we think would be a good fit otherwise for our family. We spend a lot of time and energy working to eliminate barriers to church involvement for families with special needs, and it seems incongruous to us to spend our time doing that while supporting (albeit, passively) similar barriers in a school setting, particularly in a Christian school setting. (I don't share this to say that it is wrong to send your child to private schools that exclude kids with disabilities, just that we've decided that it would be the wrong choice for our family.)

So, yep, I do think there's a right choice for your child. And I think that choice could change from year to year. Shoot, it could even differ from kid to kid within a family, though I hope that's not the case for ours because I like the idea of keeping them in the same schools if possible.

Whatever your family's choice may be, I hope we can each encourage one another.

PS - The book Chasing Elephants: Wrestling with the Gray Areas of Life by Brent Crowe is an exceptional one about biblically working through issues in which a universal right choice is unclear (and about figuring out what areas are truly gray areas vs. ones that do have a clear black and white in God's word).

PPS - My friend at New Every Morning wrote a post on a similar topic at the beginning of the last school year: Calling a Truce. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

my husband, the comedian

Alternate title: Because some things just don't fit on the other blog, you get them here.

(By the way, I do have intentions of posing here more frequently, as we're winding down home projects in anticipation of selling our house to move elsewhere in the City of Oaks. No promises or timelines, but I've missed this place. anywho...)

I showed Lee this logo and told him I liked it.

He said, "You have the love for wheelchairs?"

"No, no, no..."

"You love people who are seated?"

Sigh. Eye roll.

"Oh, I see it. You used to have love and then someone sat on it."

"Just go away. Now."

"I, too, am available to speak at conferences!" he boasted proudly, assuming a Superman stance (minus the cape, spandex, and letter on his chest, of course).

To which I, in true tongue-in-cheek Ephesians 5:33 Proverbs 32 fashion, responded, "I wonder why you haven't been asked to speak at any yet."

Unperturbed, he confidently replied, "I am undiscovered talent."