18 thoughts on your 18th birthday!


Today is the day my youngest boy turns eighteen. I did not know him as a baby, he did not come from my womb.  I missed his first smile, word, and step.  I did not get up with him in the middle of the night to calm him or to change his diaper.  I do not have a baby album to ooh and ahh over with him as I do two of my other children.   I cannot tell him what it felt like to have him inside me, or where I was for the moment of his birth.

Our story begins in a bombed out, pepto-bismo pink house where behind a broken half wall, Christian peeked over and looked directly at me trying to hide his smile as he ducked down again out of sight. His white teeth and rich, dark ebony skin in such contrast that he seemed almost larger than life.  I was done for, smitten, completely in love, head over heels and a bit dumbfounded at my immediate unconditional love for this stranger whom I would now call son.

ry=400-5This sweet miracle of a four-year old in front of me was now my son, and I his mother.  God did that. No less miraculous than when I gave birth, and just as awe-inspiring. Christian turns eighteen today.  Today I share with you my letter to him as he reaches for adulthood peeking over the tumbling  wall of adolescence and hiding his smile as he takes on this new adventure.

My dear and precious Christian,

Happy Birthday! Eighteen, I am not sure either of us thought you would make it to this day! I love you so very much and am so proud of the person you are, and still becoming.  Here on your 18th birthday  are my 18 bits of advice and reflections, ( you know it was hard to pick just 18)

  1. You are my son, being your mom is more than a bloodline, more than the same skin color and certainly more than the word adopted.
  2. Your birth mom loved you so much, she chose to give you life twice, once by birth and the second time by entrusting you to our care.  How lucky you are to have two moms that love you and always want the best for you.
  3. You are black, you are African, you are Liberian, you are beautiful, never be ashamed of where you came from or the rich heritage of your ancestors
  4. Keep asking questions, your curiosity is one of your greatest gifts.  Even if it annoys me keep asking until you understand.
  5. Remember to keep your hands off your penis and fingers out of your nose
  6. Life is not fair, keep going
  7. Your sister is not the base of all evil (some, but not all)
  8. Bacon is the answer to almost anything
  9. A man who cooks is more desired than a man who orders out
  10. You will encounter prejudice, racial profiling, and discrimination, acknowledge it and move on.
  11. Try to remember to look people in the eye, and speak clearly
  12. Look before you leap, think before you speak, don’t do it just because your brother is doing it.
  13. You have amazing tenderness and a heart of Gold
  14. ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, and ‘ I’m Sorry’ are three of the most important phrases you will ever learn, use them often
  15. Your smile is infectious and will open many doors, share it freely
  16. Find your passion and make a living doing it
  17. Take care of me when I am old-which is now.
  18. You are a child of God, dearly loved, alive and on the earth for a purpose, never doubt your worth

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Sunday Blessing: A Time for Everything
August 21, 2011, 6:00 am
Filed under: blessings, books, grief, love, Parenting | Tags: , ,


My blessing for this week comes from the Bible. This has been a crazy summer for my family. A roller coaster of highs and lows. My emotions are raw, and these verses remind me of the common bonds we all share. There truly is, a time for everything. There is nothing that I am experiencing that someone before me has not. There is comfort in the unity of the universal truths of life, death, tears, laughter, war and peace. I am not alone. You are not alone. May we rest in this truth.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

A Time for Everything

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

bless these hands
August 17, 2011, 6:00 am
Filed under: blessings, grief, love, Parenting, travel | Tags: , ,


“Wow, that went fast,” friends and family say when we tell them Scott is done with his four units of Clinical Pastoral Education. Fifteen months, 15,600 miles, 1600 clinical hours, 156 nights away from home. Can you tell me who it went fast for? Yesterday, I traveled with my husband from our home, over the mountains to Corvallis to go to the small ceremony at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center honoring this achievement.

I am so proud of him, and his tenacity to start and finish a new, and daunting career. It has been a journey of self-discovery and soul searching, as he has broadened his ministry, and his mind. He has made tough choices and missed family vacations two summers in a row. Still, Scott is not one to do things halfway, and this internship was no exception. He excelled in all his work and was highly recommended by his cohorts and supervisors for his certificate. He has a calming presence that is felt as soon as he walks into a room, making a hospital chaplain a perfect fit for him.

The reality is, it does not change our unemployment status, there is not a job with benefits and financial security waiting for us. It is still a rocky, uncertain future and he has sacrificed so much already. Still, he is optimistic, and positive, modeling a type of faith that is practical and hopeful. Our family is stronger because he is leading us by example. Scott is following his calling and passion, while honoring his past. At the end of the ceremony, they read the following blessing and anointed his hands with oil. It was a perfect ending, to this new beginning.


Blessed be the hands that touch life

Blessed be these hands that feel pain

Blessed be these hands that uphold the dignity of the vulnerable

Blessed be these hands that create, comfort and caress.

Blessed be these hands that support the spirit of the Ill and dying

Blessed be these hands that fold to connect heart and spirit

Blessed be these hands that serve in the journey towards health and wholeness.


A Blessing of courage
August 14, 2011, 9:30 am
Filed under: death, grief, love, Parenting | Tags: , ,

The phone rang early this morning, a family friend in crisis, needing a listening ear. My heart is heavy with loved ones in pain. Family and friends who are grieving, facing illness, divorce, unemployment and internal strife. I ache for the turmoil in our world. I feel small and insignificant. My blessing today, is again, from the book by John O’Donohue, “To Bless the Space Between Us” may it encourage us all to stay the course, to know we matter, and be the difference in one life today.

When the light around you lessens
And your thoughts darken until
Your body feels fear turn
Cold as stone inside,

When you find yourself bereft
Of any belief in yourself
And all you unknowingly
Leaned on has fallen,

When one voice commands
Your whole heart,
And it is raven dark,

Steady yourself and see
That it is your own thinking
That darkens your world,

Search and you will find
A diamond-thought of light,

Know that you are not alone
And that this darkness has purpose;
Gradually it will school your eyes
To find the one gift your life requires
Hidden within this night-corner.

Invoke the learning
Of every suffering
You have suffered.

Close your eyes.
Gather all the kindling
About your heart
To create one spark.
That is all you need
To nourish the flame
That will cleanse the dark
Of it’s weight of festered fear.

A new confidence will come alive
To urge you toward higher ground
Where your imagination
Will learn to engage difficulty
As it’s most rewarding threshold!