When I was in college, a fellow student began to make threats against the others involved in our small Christian fellowship. The situation escalated until one night he lashed out, and the authorities on campus took swift action, gathering us all together, and sequestering us in our 2nd floor meeting room. We spent a few hours praying, singing praise and prayers to God, and reflecting together on the experience of feeling vulnerable and frightened. Our experience of lockdown felt more driven by fear than safety, but as we were finally released, walking down the stairs and out into the dark Iowa night, I knew I was different than I had been before. The experience has shaped my response to God’s call to ministry and service in ways that I am still coming to understand.

I’ve thought of that experience often when it comes to this time of year. Following the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, he ascends into heaven and instructs the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit would come to bring power, courage, comfort, and hope. In the days before the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, we read the account of the disciples gathered together in one house, waiting. They had faced threats, grief, loss, and astonishment. So they waited. Together. Not knowing what would happen. I imagine fear driving their decision to stick together. Stay inside. Lockdown.

And tonight, as I hold my daughter and rock her to sleep, I am both saddened and surprised that I feel so thankful her school holds regular lockdown rehearsals. Not just fire and earthquake, but lockdown for crisis. From this vantage point, I can see where wise safety standards make that practice necessary. It’s not just fear. But with all my heart, I grieve with this world, our country, and tonight with our SPU community, that lockdown has become a standard practice. A common word.

I also know with all my heart that it is the gift of the Spirit that allows us to still ‘live and move and have our being” in Christ (Acts 17:28). It is the Spirit that brings courage to walk our campus, our street, in our workplace, reflecting the light of Christ as we serve and love those around us. It is the Spirit that brings comfort when we grieve and hope when we need a reason to unlock our door and walk out through it again. It is the Spirit that keeps us turning back towards the Author and Redeemer of Creation. It is the Spirit who calls us to humble repentance and dependence on the Savior, pointing our feet to walk in the way of Jesus.

My prayers are with those suffering tonight. In Seattle, Kenya, the Middle East, and countless other places where violence is felt and lockdown is a necessary practice. My prayers are also with us who call ourselves followers of Jesus. That we would be reminded yet again this Pentecost Sunday of the incredible presence of God’s Spirit in the world. That we would once again be filled with fire and passion to be a courageous and loving presence in the world. That we would choose hope over fear as we walk in step with the Spirit of God.

Peace be with you.


Parenting Advice

I have none.  Wait.  Let me revise that.  I no longer have any.

I did once.  I no longer do.  All I have now is the pursuit of imagination, creativity, and some street sense to try and make it through our days with smiles and safety.

There was a glimmering moment tonight.  We have now entered that stage of glacial erosion that happens with the word Why.  How that one word repeated over and over can erode the most steadfast of resolve, I will never know.  But this evening, I discovered an answer for the repeated question.  I felt like an expert – for a moment.  And then I got over it.

The secret of battling the dreaded Whys in our house?  I’ve tried “because (enter logical answer here)”, “because I said so”, “because it just is”, and silence.  The only answer that seems to satisfy the question is this:  “Years of intensive research proves that…. ”  Evidently, my daughter breathes a sigh of relief when she understands the years of intensive research behind the need to eat at the table, handle scissors safely, and wear clothes to school.  Problem solved.  Until tomorrow.

We were looking through old pictures this afternoon, and I was deeply struck with the many changes and incredible growth I’ve seen in her this past year.  I’ve put an older picture in the slide show below just for the fun of it.  This girl is growing like a sprout, expressing herself with great color, and exploring her world with the curiosity of a scientist.  For those among us who are enjoying the milestones, she can now recognize her written name, write the letter H, and helped me lead worship in church a couple weeks ago.  It’s a privilege and a joy to be her parent and come along for the ride.

Of course, she has also figured out that her mom is no longer an expert.  Tonight, she was experimenting with how much pressure was needed to close the kitchen drawers (this is not a euphemism for playing with them – she was systematically applying different amounts of pressure to see how much each drawer needed to roll shut).  I asked her to put the drawers away so we could get ready for bed, and when she ignored my request, I began to close the drawers myself, she said gently “No momma.”  Then she pulled all three out, put her back to them, and took a short step back causing all three to roll together into place.  She looked up at me and said “Momma, I’m teaching you.”

No question.

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Friends – I can’t believe how long it has been since I have posted anything here. I have heard from some of you that you’d like to see more photos and hear more of our family stories. I promise that will happen this week. But for today, I want to give you just a little recommendation – a friend recently published a book on a change in her family life that had me laughing, crying, and thinking. With a promise for another post this week, consider checking this out:

In Praise of Cracking Up:
I started reading this book one morning while holding it in one hand, my daughter’s picture book in another, with a cup of tea balanced on my knee. The closest I’ve come to a peaceful morning of reflective reading since becoming a mother.

Kimberlee Conway Ireton’s reflection on a new season of family life was soothing to my soul. Not only did I appreciate her reflections on faith and theology in the midst of her journey, but found myself ever so grateful for her ‘partnership’ along the way. All seriousness aside, it was a delight to laugh along with another parent at the chaos that holds such joy.

I commend her book to you.


Today, I celebrate three women who have changed my life.

To Hana, who has made me a mom.  My joy overflows.  I love that each day, you are bursting with new words, stories, and games.  I love that you remember everyone you meet, and ask about them later.  I love that you are quick to smile, and slow to anger.  I am learning from you.  And I love that you call me momma.

To Hana’s first mother, her birthmother.  Today, I am remembering you.  You cared for Hana in difficult days and gave her a powerful start in life.   Believing that life doesn’t end when we leave this earth, I trust that one day you will get to see how beautiful, capable, and strong your daughter is.

And to my mom.  Today, I am giving thanks for you.  For the love you have given, the tools you have passed along, the partnership you continually offer.  I am so very grateful.  My life is richer and fuller with you in it.  What a delight to see you enjoy your granddaughter.  We are all richly blessed.

Today, I celebrate these women, and so many others who are woven in and out of who we are as a family.  Thank you for taking the journey with us.

with gratitude,


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We’ve had an amazing season over the past few months – time with family and friends, resolving some health issues, celebrating Holy Week.  I continue to be exceedingly grateful for the community of people around us who bring joy, helping hands, and overflow with love for us both.  We are so very grateful.

For tonight, I offer you just some simple photos.  Hana continues to grow, add to her vocabulary daily, and delight her momma with antics galore.  In fact, just this morning, we began our day at 4:00am when Hana announced that she was ALL DONE sleeping.  Who knew that phrase would come back around in such a decisive way…  She has begun telling me stories about her day, and continues to be uniquely tuned to the people around her, remembering names, and looking forward to seeing people again.  This girl is a hub of love and relationships.  I’m blessed to be in her orbit.

Enjoy the show…

Heather and Hana

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So, it’s been a while – and there is MUCH to report.  Hana is sparkling, engaging, and busting at the seams with new words every day.  She wakes up in the morning rehearsing her list of words: grandpa, grandma, forehead, zipper, nose, cup, breakfast, cereal, friend….  And she goes to bed at night listing ‘her people’ – she truly has a love for remembering people’s names, and runs through family, friends, church friends, and school friends.  It’s an amazing thing to hear.

We have countless pictures to share, and more stories to tell – but you are going to have to wait a few days.  Before we post anything else, I want to take a moment to remember a most exceptional and glorious morning.

During Christmas break, the kids of three of our favorite families spent their time planning, cooking, and hosting a delightful fundraiser to support Hana’s adoption costs.  Bowie was the ringleader, wanting to fulfill his vision for supporting and cheering Hana in her arrival.  We send a shout out to the whole gang: Bowie, Oz, Keir, Alex, Aine, Fionn, Faith, and August.  You guys are amazing!

The crew transformed one family’s home into a Creperie, complete with a chalkboard menu sign as you entered, and a table host.  During the week before, the kids had been trained in the fine art of waiting tables, and the kitchen equipped with in and out doors to help keep things flowing.  With a choice of sweet or savory crepes, hot drinks, and GREAT company, the morning was an incredible success.  The kids served almost 150 crepes, and made almost $400!  Hana and I are awed, and humbled, by their care.  The money was used to help pay off a portion of Hana’s travel expenses from her trip home.

My heart is full as I think about the community that surrounds our little family.  I LOVE that the kids around us had a vision and the desire to get involved in Hana’s adoption.  And I look forward to many more years of enjoying life in one another’s homes and company.  We are richly and truly blessed.

Enough said… here’s a glimpse of the fun.

with gratitude,


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Another exceptional day!  Of the many steps on the way to ‘officialness’ in this adoption process, I think today had to be the most fun.  My parents and brother arrived early at our home, and we drove together up to the King County Courthouse. We met our wonderful lawyer, David Andersen, and stood before a wonderful judge, Judge John P. Erlick.  And minutes later, Hana’s adoption in US court was complete.

For those wondering about all these steps upon steps, here’s a little recap:  Hana was referred to me by my adoption agency, and I accepted her referral on the Friday after Thanksgiving last year – November 25, 2011.  After having met her on my first visit to Ethiopia, I appeared in the Ethiopian Adoption court, accompanied by my dear friend Njeri from Kenya, and testified that I would care for Hana as my daughter.  Her adoption was finalized in Ethiopia on June 21, 2012.   At that time, she was given an Ethiopian passport, and Ethiopian birth certificate listing me as her mother.   On August 18th, I was greeted by Hana at the Thomas Center in Addis Ababa – holding flowers and dressed to walk into our life together (with fancy shoes that flashed and squeaked…  they were quickly donated back to the children’s home!)  On August 21st, Hana and I presented ourselves at the US Embassy, accompanied by my faithful friend Rebecca, and Hana was granted a US Visa with the privilege of becoming a US Citizen the moment she set foot on US soil.  She became a US Citizen the morning of Saturday, August 25th as we disembarked our flight with much joy.  (And even some tears and celebration as the US Immigration officer at SeaTac made it official.)

So why do it all again?  By re-adopting Hana here in Washington State, she will be given a US birth certificate and US adoption decree that will be helpful in the future if she needs proof of identity and/or citizenship.   And why here?  For the joy of taking one of these steps with the supportive presence of Hana’s grandparents and uncle.  And why today?  Because the court threw a party!  Complete with kiddo games, music, the Mariner Moose, and an official proclamation.  It was awesome.

Happy National Adoption Day, everyone.  We pray that other children, both here and around the world, will find homes where they will be loved, nurtured, and given the security and laughter they need to thrive.

Here’s the day in photos.  Enjoy!  Thanks for celebrating the journey with us.

Heather and Hana

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