Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas to each of you!  As 2017 comes to a close we have much to give thanks for!

Luke and Paige:  Luke and Paige got married on November 4, 2017.  What a great day! Luke graduated from the University of Toledo with honors in Mechanical Engineering on December 17th.  They currently reside in Toledo.

Abi:  Abi is commuting to Eastern Michigan University full time, nannying, helping with the youth group, and dating a guy named Matt she met at Knox who also works with the youth group.

Kaiti:  Kaiti is also commuting to Eastern Michigan University majoring in Art and minoring in Children’s literature.  She worked at Busch’s this past summer.

Josh:  Josh is a freshmen in High School, he played Soccer and is currently playing basketball. Josh is very active in his youth group.

Robenson:  Robenson is in 8th grade and is working hard on getting caught up in his school work.  He played soccer in the spring on a travel team and would like to play for the school in the fall.

Anna:  Anna is in 6th grade and played soccer in the spring and fall, and does running with the Polar bear club.

Samson:  Samson is in 5th grade, played soccer in the spring, and got baptized in December.

Jimmy:  Jimmy is in third grade, played soccer in the spring and also got baptized in December.

Ally:  Ally is in second grade, played soccer in the Spring and loves to draw.

Ricardo:  Ricardo is in first grade and played soccer in the Spring .

Ella:  Ella is four now and loves to do :”homework when her siblings are doing theirs.  She loves to be read to and loves to play with whatever sibling is currently availiable.

To say the past year has been hard would be an understatement.  Ron and I both agree it has probably been one of the hardest, if not the the hardest year of our lives.  We have had to dig deep in our walks with the Lord to find the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual strength to make it through the days.  That having been said it has also been a year of extreme joy.  Kaiti graduating, Luke and Paige getting married, the boys each stating how they want to “go with God”, the love that the children are learning in hard days, the peace that comes when you know it is the Lord that has given you the right perspective or attitude.  And many days feeling His unconditional love when we fail.   We both agree we would not want to have to redo this past year, but we are thankful that somehow we made it through.

We continue to covet your prayers for perspective, wisdom and discernment.

Jesus came to become one of us….

Luke 4:16-19

16And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Blessings, The Schaffner Family



To so many of you who have followed our story on our blog, but are not on facebook, I will try to give a quick update.IMG_9135_1

The boys are now fairly fluent in English.  We can at least communicate.  We continue to work through various issues which arise from being without someone telling them what and when to do it for so many years.  Many of our days must be fairly scheduled and routine in order for Ron and I to make it through sanely.  Children from hard places also thrive on consistency and routine.  It is very comforting to them.

Each week Ella and pile 8 dozen eggs, 8 gallons of milk, 4 loaves of bread, 2 jugs of orange juice, oh, you get the picture!  We are going through a LOT of food!  Sometimes Ricardo eats more than Josh or Ron, no joke!  The children both bio and adopted seem to be adjusting overall to life.  Some days are difficult and we try to find ways to get through.  Everyone is working hard at school and we will miss the warm days to send everyone out to get their energy out!

We get to celebrate the joyous occasion of our son, Luke, getting married on Saturday.  Praying for a great day of weather and celebration and covet your prayers for our travels there and back!

Please continue to pray for Ron for strength for the load he carries at school.  I continue to reach out to you for prayers in the emotional arena.  I realize how often others may be crying out to be heard in some sort of pain and in our pride we miss their cries.  I just finished a book called “Why did Maddie Run?”  It is the tragic story of a college freshman who ran track at UPENN.  She struggled with the added stress of an IVY league school and the rigors of college sports.  She cried out to those around her, yet from her Instagram posts and her twitter feeds you would have thought she had it all.  She committed suicide when she felt she could not quit track.  I highly recommend the book for parents and especially if you have children going away to school.  Through that book I could relate as the addition of the boys, while it has brought great joy, has also brought emotional turmoil for me personally.  It is hard some days assessing the needs of so many different people.  I think we often don’t share for fear of words of some who would say, “well, you asked for it.”  But, I as I reflect, we know we heard our Saviour say to adopt these for boys.  I am reminded of the song:

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small,
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”
In a book I am reading entitled, The Different Drum, Community Making and Peace, he Scott Peck, MD. talks of the amazing blessing that Alcoholics Anonymous has been to so many.  He says about it:

As with victims of natural disaster, AA starts with people in crisis.  Men and women come to it in a moment of breaking. They come to it because they realize that they do not “have it all together,” that they are in need, that the can no longer go it alone.  Yet it would be a mistake to think of alcoholics as a truly special breed. Because it has become a safe place in which to reveal themselves, all men and women in genuine community sooner or later confess their brokenness.  We are all wounded. None of us really has it all together. None of us can really go it all alone. We are all in need, in crisis, although most of us still seek to hide the reality of our brokenness from ourselves and one another.  The men and women of AA can no longer hide their alcoholism; they must confess their brokenness. Crisis is a built in condition for the AA community , and in that sense alcoholism may be a blessing.  “

I have heard someone say before perhaps if as followers of Jesus, our lives more resembled the community of an AA meeting instead of that of religious Pharisees, perhaps we could start to get somewhere in terms of being real.

Peck goes on further to say:

“But what happens when we behave invulnerably, when we gird ourselves with psychological defenses and pretend that we are cool cats who have got it all together, rugged individualists who seem to be in complete control of our lives? What happens is that other people gird themselves with their psychological defenses and pretend that they too are cool ones who have got it all together, and our human personal relationships becoming nothing more than that of two empty tanks bumping against each other in the night.”

My faith is being tested as it never has been before, so would you please pray for me?

In closing, one of my favorite authors,

Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not “How can we hide our wounds?” so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but “How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?” When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.

Henri Nouwen

Thank you to Katie Dorr Photography for the beautiful family pictures!


God makes His people strong.  God gives His people peace.” Psalm 29:11

Pride makes us artificial, humility makes us real.” Thomas Merton

“It constantly happens that the Lord permits a soul to fall so that it may grow humbler.” Teresa of Avila

“We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being.  As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have….for their usefulness.” Thomas Merton

The summer has been one in which in any spare moments I find I have felt the Lord calling me to be in a place of listening to Him.  I have felt His spirit asking me to slow down and hear Him in the stillness.  The world is constantly calling me to listen to their value system, to want more, to buy more, to do more.  I am weary of its call.  I hate its teasing, unfulfilling temptations.  Henri Nouwen said, ” … The identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. You belong to God, and it is as a child of God that you are sent into the world.”  Freedom is found and anchored in the realization that no human praise and no human blame can touch the deepest part of me where I am truly loved by Him.  What a freeing place this is.  My prayer is that you can find this time, this space in the deep place in your soul to be with Him.  It is a remarkable place to bring all your burdens, failures, sins, and hurts as well as your joys and praises!

What is this journey He has called us on? What is the journey you are called on?  It seems all around me people have hard times, difficult paths, thorny roads to travel.  “Think about Jesus, He made His journey and asked his disciples to follow him even where they would rather not go.  The journey you are choosing is Jesus’ journey.  Your journey is made not just for yourself, but for all who belong to the body.”–Henri Nouwen Matthew 26:56 states, “Then all the disciples abandoned Him and ran away.”  Again, we see ourselves in the disciples.  We fear our own call, what will it mean?  Some days we don’t know what His call on our life means.  We must simply trust and obey each day in that which He has given us for that day.  We rely and depend on outward approval from others, instead of His approval and love.  We look to things to fill a place that only He can.  We look to experiences and comforts to be the answer that we can only find in Him.

The summer has brought many new memories and has united our family in many ways.  Going up north was a great blessing as we stayed at my Grandpa’s cabin and enjoyed the beach, sand, kayaks, ice cream, movies and just a pleasant get away from the daily routine.  Ricardo asked if we could live at the cabin!  The boys attended a 2 and 1/1 hour per day summer school which was great for them and gave us a small break.  The summer came at the perfect time for me personally to have time to regroup and have Ron around to help with the daily work load of meals, laundry and errands.  Eleven people are a lot of needs to meet each day and so I have had to withdraw from facebook for the most part to focus on the real people in my day.

Here are some pictures that help capture our summer!

We surely continue to covet your prayers and appreciate each one of you!


Michelle and gangIMG_0920IMG_0644IMG_0659IMG_0639IMG_0570IMG_0966IMG_0525IMG_0327IMG_0498IMG_8334IMG_8912IMG_0032IMG_0669IMG_0218IMG_0907

Summer Hellos!

Greetings to each of you!  Please know in these busy days we haven’t forgotten those of you who have prayed and are praying for us!  Please continue!  It is just that some days it is hard to find time to blog!

I recently read the story of Peter attempting to walk on water after he watched Jesus do this.  For some reason, I found greater comfort in his failure to complete this task than if he had accomplished it.  Apparently only a single great picture has been painted of this scene, one by Conrad Witz in 1944.  Some suppose it is that we don’t want to associate our great leaders with failure.  Peter had been called upon by Jesus to be the rock on which he will build his church.  Furthermore he denies Jesus three times.  Isn’t that interesting, the rock, something immovable is what he calls Peter.  Perhaps it is our failures He uses best. Failures and brokenness help destroy pride, which is one of the most difficult sins to root out.  

To be able to recognize the storms of life as God’s greatest gifts takes reframing them; to be able to find in brokenness a new dependence on the Father which yields a spirit unattainable by self sufficiency.  Not that I would wish to stay in the state I was in for the first few months after the boys came home;  I wouldn’t wish feeling depressed, overwhelmed and in the storm with no shalom in sight.  But when the peace comes, it comes with an understanding that it is only from Him. To be obedient to His call sometimes will mean storms that would not have come had you stayed safely on shore.  NT Wright says in his comments following this passage, “There are many times when Jesus asks us to do what seems impossible.  How can we even begin to do the task he’s called us to?”  Surely we cannot look at the waves of the storm.  We must fix our eyes on Him.  This is the only way to make it through the storm.

    I wish I could say that all my doubts, fears and concerns are gone.  They are daily resurfacing, but each day seems to bring a greater sense of normalcy.  It is feeling more normal to have the boys here than to not.  Our bio children are interacting well with them and there are less issues overall.  In fact, our bio children seem to love them here, there is always someone to play with: backyard soccer, swimming, bike rides, checker games, swinging, and just general fun all around now that summer has arrived.  

   It is interesting how the Lord answers prayers.  One of the things I have struggled with in having a big family, and since adding the boys especially, is the fact that sometimes it seems we cannot focus on each child like the world around us seems too.  I came across this book called “The Danish Way of Parenting” which is conveying some of the secrets these people have in being titled the “happiest people in the world.”

The American way is often one of do-it-yourself individualism.   We don’t even realize how often our culture affects our choices for ourselves and for our children.  What is held up as most important in our culture?  What is highly valued?  The book states, “The idea of togetherness, if you think about it, is quite different from the individualistic nature that forms a large piece of the American identity. The United States was built on self reliance. We don’t really need others if we are strong enough to succeed on our own.  Why should we have to depend on support if we can do it ourselves.  We glorify individual achievement and self fulfillment with terms such as ”the self-made man” and idolize the individual hero in all walks of life from political to social to sports.  If you listen to sports, it is rarely about the team effort; rather, it’s the individual who stands out; the famous quarterback or pitcher. It’s the star who shines out from the rest. The people who help support that star often become blurred background noise. It’s the hard work and the survival of the fittest we admire most.  We are then raised to strive to be that star, that winner.  Geert Hofstede,  world-renowned cultural psychologist, concluded in a very famous study about cultural differences that the US has the highest level of individualism in the world.  That is pretty incredible.  We are so programmed to think about “I” that we probably don’t even realize it.”   I share this to say that we are even as Christians so self focused, often missing others along the way.  The others Jesus has placed in our lives, in our attempt to be the best whatever we can be.  I was really challenged in the book when she said “ Moreover, it’s fair to say that most of us would enjoy being  a “winner.” We would like our kids to be winners or at the very least to be the best at something and stand out. This is pretty normal.  Who wouldn’t want that.” She goes on to give examples of various awards and trophies that might be awarded to our children.  But then she asks this question, “How many of us would naturally consider giving the winning trophy for “harmony of the group”? How many of us would gauge our child’s success not on how well he played, but on how well he helped others play or how well the children played together?” Think of this in light of a sporting event.  Wow! How different our perspective if we look at sports in this way instead of tallying our children’s points scored!  So in this the Lord has shown me that some of the things that we are limited by in our family size are also gifts. The gift of being other centered vs. self centered.  The gift of remembering the least of these coming before your own comfort.  The book talks of the concept of togetherness as a family and a word they call “hygge” which essentially is:  putting yourself aside for the benefit of the whole.  So, in this I have found peace, that in obedience to God’s call, He is also working out what is best for all of our children.  

About two months after the boys came home my prayer was, “Lord, I pray that one day I can encourage someone to adopt.” Meaning at that point I was not sure if I could recommend it to anyone.  The years of waiting, the cost and the very difficult part of leaving my nursing toddler three times were hard enough.  Now, to have so much of the aspect of bringing them home be so different than I thought.  I so longed for things to somehow feel normal.  It seemed that much like Peter, I could not walk on the water.  What’s more, it felt like I was drowning.  I am thankful to say that after counseling, spending time with the Lord and Ron’s steadfastness in my life I am doing better.  But, honestly, I must say that my life will never “be the same.”  In saying that, I know that this is the cost.

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

He can not live in us unless we die first.  Dying to ourselves is not a once and for all process.  It is one that must be redone each day.  

In what way is Jesus asking you to walk out on the water today?  Does it feel impossible?  Does it feel out of your abilities?  Well, that could be a good sign.  He often will use the things that we could not possibly do on our own, to easily remind us that there is no way it has been done on our own.  

Praises to the Lord

I personally have my most difficult time emotionally after going to someone’s house.  Somehow it reminds me that our life is not “normal” anymore and I have to work through that fact.  Monday on the way home from a niece’s grad party I was praying through this and asking the Lord to remember us in this time.  As the tears fell, all of the sudden I saw a rainbow, then another and a few minutes later another!  I surely felt He was reminding me that He had not forgotten me or our family.

Then last night after reading the boys a Bible story out of the Jesus Loves Me storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones, Samson asked me “who decides if we get to be with God?  God or us?  And I said, well, you do.  Each person decides if they want to follow Jesus.  He said, “I want to go with God!”  and Jimmy and Ricardo both quickly replied, “me too, I want to be with God!”  “How do we be with God?” So, I asked them what they thought and some thought to “obey”, and we talked about how no one could obey all the time perfectly.  So, then I called Ron in to help and we used a wooden cross that our neighbors, Joe and Laura Kinney had made for us, to show them how Christ has bridged the gap between our sin and God.  We explained to them that this is a decision they each have to make for themselves.  Samson, Jimmy and Ricardo each prayed out loud in their own precious words to follow Jesus and to ask forgiveness for their sins.  It was so precious.  We can tell from reading them Bible stories that they have heard them before.  We are pretty sure a nanny at the orphanage read to them from the Creole Jesus Loves me Storybook Bible.  It is is evident that they have heard and have a good basis.  We know from what Robenson has shared that he comes from a Christian family.

We want to thank you each for your prayers in the years and months of waiting for praying for their salvation.

Today, there are three more names written down in glory! And May His name be praised!

And so in the midst of the hard, their is unspeakable eternal perspective on joy in following His path.

“There is a great sense of rest in being in the way of His steps.” I.Lillias Trotter





Lessons being Learned

“Everything that wrecks our hopes of ourselves, and our earthly props, is helping forward infinitely God’s work in us.”  I. Lilias Trotter, Parables of the Christ Life

How often are we reminded that in following Jesus we will be broken, become weak?  We are often encouraged to fight the good fight and to be strong!  But, what is strength?  His word says, when I am weak, He is strong.  When we are out of the way, He becomes the Way.  Perhaps we don’t often hear of the way to be “weak in Him” as Lilias Trotter says, since we do not want that path. We do not want the path of utter dependence upon Him.  We want to live according to our flesh, not according to the Spirit.  And ironically the more we try to be Christ like, the more we become aware that our deeds are as filthy rags before Him.  “It is not only that which is sinful as opposed to that which is holy; it is that which is human as opposed to that which is Divine.”   Further on in her little devotional, the Parables of the Christ life, Lilias says “The carnal nature with its workings stands out as the hindrance in the way of the Divine, and the time comes when we see that no more growth is possible to the Christ in us unless a deliverance comes here. We are helpless in the matter. There is no system of self-repression or self-mortification that will do anything but drive the evil below the surface, there to do a still more subtle work, winding down out of reach.  The roots will only strike deeper and the sap flow stronger for the few leaves trimmed off here and there.  If self sets to work to slay self it will only end in rising hydra headed from the contest.  How is the deliverance to come? The annuals give us the secret.  Look back at the vetch seed vessels. Why is it that leaves which used to stand firm and fresh like those to the flowering clover, have begun to shrivel and turn yellow?  It is because they have acquiesced wholly now in the death sentence of their new birth, and they are letting the new life live at the expense of the old.  Faith is being wrought out by life. “And I skip a bit to come to the conclusion Ms. Trotter draws:  “Christ is our Life now—-our Only Life—-And we begin to find that He is dealing with the old creation, we hardly know how. We only know that as we bring the judgment, the motive, the aim that were ours, not His, into contact with Him, they shrivel and wither like the dying leaves.  The impulses and shrinking of the flesh perish in his Presence alike. The new life wrecks the old. “And we are “saved by His life”.  Thank you Jesus.

Becoming part of brokenness reveals to us our brokenness, unveiling our illusion of wholeness…thereby showing us again and again our need of the Savior.  And as I wrote this little phrase I began to ponder the what ifs.  What if we had not entered into the broken lives of our adopted sons?  Would I have not seen my own?  Would I have missed the graciousness that has been afforded to me in this journey from our Savior?  Would I have missed seeing the brokenness in our bio children?  If we set up our lives to never enter another’s brokenness—–perhaps we will never see our own?  Jesus came to make all things new and to restore the pain and hurt and He has for some reason allowed us to be the conduits of His love in this process.  Ally and I were talking about some of the hard parts of her new brothers being here and as we talked about the brokenness in the world is like a glass vase being shattered to the ground and that piece by piece we pick up the pieces and glue them together and when Jesus returns the cracks and glue repairs will be completely made whole.  She really could see it!  She became so excited.  This followed the difficult reality that our new brothers and sons would not have chosen to have their mom die , and as Ally mourned for them in that moment, Jesus was real to me.  How will Jesus become real to those broken around us?  What is each of our part?

It is funny, he came to die…..why would I not expect to die, that new life could come forth?


Spring Break

In our most recent sermon at church we were reminded that as believers we have one response to the King of Kings when He asks us to do something:  “Yes, Your majesty.” It is with that admonition, that we continue to press on in the grace, mercy and strength of the Lord.  He has asked us to do a task that is not possible in our own human strength.  So we move from self-reliance to God reliance….which was another part of  the sermon from Sunday.  As I was reading Ella Bible stories today, Jonah, Daniel, Baby Moses, it struck me that each one had that same theme…..tasks only possible in God’s power and strength.  Even Mary carrying the Lord…….Jesus in her womb…..most likely not her idea of how her first step  of motherhood would be.   We must remove the veil of a selfish gospel.  It is not about our Kingdom come, it is about His kingdom come…..on earth as it is in heaven.  Praying that God would be glorified in our lives. Pictures from our spring break!


This may be the last post for a bit as we have a very busy season coming with 7 children in soccer on four different teams, Kaiti graduating and a busy season for Ron at school.  We are making progress each day.  Thank you for your prayers.

We had a great spring break with hope for the future, and hope is a very good thing.

Some of the highlights, not necessarily in order:

Celebrated Kaiti’s 18th birthday with dinner, dessert and movie

Rode bikes to park and flew kites and played soccer

Played in the Sprinkler and with slip n slide

Did pearler beads, colored Lego people, did lots of legos and puzzles

Went to Toledo for:  the Toledo Museum of Art which featured artist :  Kehinde Wiley:  who did artwork featuring people of color and went to Haiti as well.  Picture is of Robenson with artwork from Wiley’s trip to Haiti

Had Pizza hut with Luke

Went to Sky Zone and jumped and jumped and jumped!

Met up at Mom and Dad’ Redmans with the Lawry family so they could meet the boys

Josh and Anna taught the boys how to play Knock out, lots of backyard soccer

Anna helped mom stock up on groceries and we hit Starbucks

Got some Spring shopping done

Read books and slept in (well, the kids did)

Mr. Howe treated our whole family to a BIG screen movie in Adrian, Baby Boss, the boys first big theatre movie

Went to Library book sale and got to make cool bead bookmarks too!

Oh, and one trip to urgent care for Ella’s ear infection, followed by her vomiting her antibiotic.  🙂