Category Archives: Faith

ARFO Summit – Why Adoption is Not Second Best

Note: I had the privilege of speaking at the annual Alianță Romania Fără Orfan (Alliance Romania Without Orphans) Summit  The following is the transcript of my workshop. It was a wonderful group of people, and the first time I have publicly spoken with an interpreter. Here is a picture of a courageous single woman Daniella, who attended the workshop and left very encouraged. She is in the process of adopting a seven year old daughter! Please pray for her and ARFO!

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Greetings to you and your beautiful country from The United States. My name is Bonnie Klein and I have had the privilege to visit Romania every year for the past four years. I have been married to my husband Daniel for 42 years. We have six children. Our oldest daughter, Marie, and her husband Christian and their children live here. Our youngest daughter Isadora was born in Romania. She had lived in an orphanage since birth. She was adopted in 1999 when she was 6 years old.

When my husband and I first married we never planned on having a large family. We had a son, Aaron and then three years later we had a daughter, Marie. Five years later we had another son, Andrew, then a daughter, Sarah and then another son, Timothy.  It was a happy family with five children. Even though by American standards we didn’t have a lot of money, we had lots of love and God always provided everything we needed.

When our youngest, Timothy, was 6 yrs. old, our hearts were stirred to consider adopting a 4-year-old girl. At first, I must confess I felt a little silly. Why would I want another child? I had three sons and two daughters! As a follower of the Lord Jesus, I did believe that every child was created in the image of God and every child’s life has value.

My husband and I had read the scripture in the Bible in James 1:27 –

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

We were caring for my mother who had been widowed. This was acceptable in our culture to care for our elderly parents, but children? I already had a house full of children, then ages 6, 8, 10, 15, and 18! Was there room at our family’s table and in our hearts for one more?

We prayed earnestly about this important decision. We shared the idea with our children. Everyone was in agreement – we did have room in our hearts and we can always make room for one more at our table!

I believe every life has a story. We have the privilege of writing parts of an orphaned child’s story by adopting them into our family. We share our identity with them and our home and our love, as we add chapters to their life story. We do not have to be childless to do this.

This is why Adoption is Not Second Best. Many couples who cannot have biological children will choose to adopt and many people will think it is second best.

We discovered that adoption is not second best, it is instead God’s good plan. In the Bible in Psalm 68, it describes God as this-

“God is in his holy Temple. He is a father to orphans, and he defends the widows. God gives the lonely a home.”

This is God’s plan for the orphan crisis, to give the lonely child a family. For each of us to make room in our hearts and at our table for a child. If those who were able to, made the choice to adopt, then the problem would be solved. You being present here speaks of your heart being concerned for these children. God bless you.

It was 1996 when we started our adoption journey. A little 4-year-old girl name Izidora located in Târgu Mureș was presented as a “waiting child” to us. A “waiting child” was a child that most people did not want to adopt, either because of their age or having some kind of problem. She was four years old, had some developmental delay and a heart murmur that possibly needed surgery.

My husband and I were not nervous about these things. All children, including the ones in our home had different medical needs. When you have a biological child you do not know what you are getting – boy or girl? Personality? Hearing? Think of how different you are from your brother or sister! No two children are alike, each are created uniquely by our heavenly Father.

What I was nervous about was this – could I love an adopted child the way I loved my biological children? How could I know for sure? This was something that we wanted to do and asked God to give us the special love needed for this child.

We discovered that LOVE is more a choice than a feeling. I had chosen love many times for my biological children, from changing a dirty diaper to talking with a teen. In fact, I discovered that it was easier for me to add a child to the end of our family because I already knew that sometimes children could be hard to love!

Our adoption process was a long wait. What was supposed to take one year took three years. By the time Isadora came into our family she was just a few months less of being seven years old. I will not pretend it was easy. All children are a blessing and a burden! An adopted child, especially an older one, will come with painful memories of being very alone. They will struggle to trust you, because their experience is there has been no parent they can learn trust from.

It is a slower road, but today we have so many resources to help us connect with an adopted child. Because I had raised five other children I was able to relax with childish things Isadora did because I was already a mother. It was easier for me to mother her, because I had experience.

As an adopted child Isadora did struggle with identity. I have found this to be true with all six of my children growing up, trying to figure out who they are. It is especially true for an adopted child.

As we loved and encouraged our daughter throughout the years we saw her start to trust us and her siblings. We have told her that her life is a story that God is writing, He brought her into our home and made her a Klein. He has a good plan and purpose for her life.

In the Bible in the book of Acts 17: 26 it says, “From one man God made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and God marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”

We believe that God also allows her to write parts of her story and now at 25 years old, Isadora works full time and lives independently of us. She gets to make her own choices, and like some of our other adult children, she sometimes makes choices we do not think is the best choice!

She does know these things though – she knows she has a family, people who will always support and love her. She has parents who will listen to her and speak truth to her. She has a place to belong during the holidays. She knows that God has a good plan and purpose for her life.

Isadora’s story is not over, she has a bright future. Her short fifteen years in our home seems like the blink of an eye now. It is a few chapters in the book of her life. Having the privilege of being her mother is one of the best things that has happened to me. I am a better person because of loving her.

I know God in a more intimate way because I now understand His unconditional love for me. Our family table would have an empty spot without her. My heart would have an empty spot without her.

Sometimes the problem of the orphan crisis seems overwhelming. We can be tempted to think that what we do will not make much difference. We have discovered that making room at our family table and in our hearts for Isadora was like planting a seed. And that seed grew and sprouted and multiplied.

Never in our wildest dreams did we think Marie’s trip to Romania in 1999 was more than to help my husband pick up Isadora. But God had more planned. He planted a seed in her heart to love the children here.  She has been back and forth from the United States several times and finally moved here permanently in 2014.

Never in our wildest dreams did we think that our oldest son, Aaron and his wife would adopt internationally, especially from Ethiopia. But God had more planned. When traveling to Ethiopia in 2009 God planted a seed in their hearts to love the children there. They are living and working in the US, while working to create a vocational school for teens in Ethiopia.

Never did we think we would have such a diverse family, but it is one that we are proud of because we believe it is a little picture of heaven, our unity being part of a larger family.

I have found Romanians to be a very hospitable people. So, I would ask you to search your hearts and ask yourself, “Do I have room at our family’s table for just one more? Do I have room in my heart? Is this something I have the ability to do?”

While you ponder those questions, I would like to show you some pictures of our family. Then if you have any questions I will try my best to answer them.



January 15, 1999 – We celebrate “Dora Day” the day she entered the United States. I am telling her here that “I am your mama!” I felt instant love for her!


1999 – This is the picture we sent out to friends and family announcing Isadora joining the Klein family.


2001 – Isadora’s school picture – she is 9 years old and her heart did not require any surgery.


2005 – Isadora’s school picture – she is 13 years old with braces on her teeth.


2008 – 16 years old and her favorite food is Chinese – years of braces are over!


2009 – Ten Year Anniversary of “Dora Day”, so we celebrated with having our picture professionally  taken together.


2009 – Our oldest son, Aaron served on a local college board. He had a special function that his wife could not attend so he asked his youngest sister Isadora age 17 to be his guest.


2009 – Easter Sunday and the family has grown to include our first grandchild, Spencer Daniel. Our oldest son, Aaron and his wife adopted Spencer from South Korea.


2010 – Christmas photo and Isadora age 18 has glasses now.


2010 – My daughters; Sarah, Marie, and Isadora attending a church women’s retreat with me.


2011 – Regency Ball – Isadora picked out the dress style and fabric and I made this gown for her.


2011 – Mother’s Day with the four remaining children


2011 – Isadora with her father at her high school graduation – 19 years old


2012 – Isadora with her good friend Loni


2012 – Isadora with her best friend Paige


2012 – The family table at Thanksgiving at our oldest son’s home.


2013 – Christmastime with Isadora age 21


2014 – Father’s Day at church – my husband Daniel is in the middle with Isadora, beside him. Our son, Aaron is on the left with his wife Cacey, and our son, Andrew is on the right with his wife, also named Casey! We told our youngest son, no Caseys!


2015 – Isadora receives a book in Romanian for her 23rd birthday from Marie. We have tried hard to help her be proud of her Romanian heritage.


2016 – We had a family reunion and all six children were home at the house they were raised in. It was a special time and they re-posed the same as the original picture of the six of them.


2016 – This is a picture of me celebrating my 60th birthday last year. These are my precious grandchildren. Aaron and Cacey adopted two more children from Ethiopia, they are on the left, Teddy and Emma. On my right is Spencer, my first grandchild, even though his brother Teddy is my oldest grandchild. The two little matching girls are Addy and Mercy and they live here in Romania and attend the public school. The youngest boy with them is Noelan. He was in the process of being adopted by Marie and Christian and much to our sadness, the adoption process failed. Christian shared in the last session about that story.

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2016 – We also have a grandson Taylor and a new granddaughter Cassidy. Our family has had our share of heartache as I have two granddaughters not with us named Eisley and Ava. It’s important to mention their names as it’s important to remember them.


2017   This is a current picture of Isadora currently 25 years old. She is maturing, working at a McDonald’s and has become a manager! She is in the process of renting her first apartment. She recently has saved her money to purchase a car. She lives just 20 minutes from us. She is self-sufficient. She knows she is loved and has a family. We are very proud of her accomplishments.

Table - Holiday

In the United States we have an annual Holiday called Thanksgiving. It was celebrated just two days ago. Most people eat a traditional turkey dinner. We talk about what we are thankful for. This is a picture of our family’s table from last year. I am so thankful we adopted Isadora and she is part of our family.

Table - Romania

Romania will always be very special to us as this country allowed us to make our family complete.

Table - Romanian

This last photo is of a Romanian dinner table with tradition dishes – but you might also notice some empty chairs.

So, I would ask you again to search your hearts and ask yourself, “Do I have room at our family’s table for just one more? Do I have room in my heart? Is this something I have the ability to do?”

Thank you for listening to my story.

The Waves of Emotion

A tidal wave overpowers me and I’m left face first with sand in my nostrils.

Carries me out to sea again and tossed to and fro amidst the garbage floating by.

I thought I was on a hill of safety, far enough from the sea of emotions that desires to drown me.

But alas safety was not to be found, even though it appeared safe…t’was not.

I’ll survive. I don’t feel like I will, but I always do.

There are times when the exhaustion is such I’m thinking that succumbing to the waters would be a relief. A selfish relief, but a relief never the less.

But I have a beloved and even though he is beaten and battered too, we walk side by side, searching for higher hills of safety…

Happiest of New Year’s to You!

Hope, Joy, Peace, Love – These are the four Sundays of ADVENT that we just celebrated.

Over the years our family has lit the candles and tried different devotionals. The past five years we have been at a church that lights the candles each Sunday and the sermon will often focus on that week’s word.


Wikipedia says- “Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning “coming”. Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives. “Since the time of Bernard of Clairvaux (d.1153) Christians have spoken of the three comings of Christ: in the flesh in Bethlehem, in our hearts daily, and in glory at the end of time.” The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.”

So even though the word means “coming” it involves “expectant waiting”. I now realize this expectant waiting seems to be part of everyday life, not just the for weeks before Christmas.

This hoping for good times to arrive, for the storms of life to settle. Yet it often seems that just when one storm is settling that another is brewing on the horizon. Such is life.

2016 was a good year for me. Looking in from the outside one might not think so as 2016 has brought my share of storms and I’ve had to learn to wait as never before. I’ve been brought to a place of letting go, of surrendering and riding out the storms and that’s what’s been good.

I see a subtle change in me, one that involves more Hope, more Joy, more Peace, and more Love. I have better perspective and more emotional well being. I realize this life is much like the weather, as much as we try to predict it, as each day dawns we really don’t know what it holds.

So for 2017 I’d like to embrace what each day holds and live in the advent way where I have Jesus ruling my heart daily and I am being “alert for his Second Coming.” I want to be anticipating his return for us with hope and joy, peace and love.


I think this will give me a needed perspective when my prediction of life is “clear and sunny skies” and the day proves to be “drizzling with drama”.

Hopeful that 2017 brings you personal growth, that you might find Joy in the simple things, that you would worry less and have more Peace and Love others the way you desire to be loved. Happy New Year. ❤️

Quiet and The Cross

It’s interesting what I discover in life’s journey when I am afforded longer periods of quiet.

This trip to Romania gave me that. Quiet.

Quiet simplicity was found in the ministry of the mundane.

Yes there was noisy bustling traffic and wild dogs barking at night and grandchildren who giggled with glee, but I wasn’t responsible for any of that.


The lack of responsibility resulted in my brain relaxing in a rare way. My thoughts were simpler and there was no phone or bustling schedule to remind me of the responsibilities of this life.

So as I went through my day, often with longer periods of quiet, pondering life and talking with God, I saw clearly for the first time my contribution in hurting someone.

I’m so thankful it was quiet enough for me to actually hear this truth. My friend Mary said if we step on someone’s toe by accident or on purpose, their toe still hurts and we need to acknowledge that.

I pondered Matthew 18:23-35 where Jesus tells the story of the forgiven yet unforgiving servant. The king forgives the servant of such a huge amount and then the servant goes out and starts choking someone who owes him a tiny amount. Much like we do. Much like I’ve done.

We’ve been forgiven of so much, yet hold such high standards for everyone. I discovered by focusing on the forgiveness I received that those offences by others seem trivial in the shadow of the cross.

So I was able to write a letter of apology and in my heart I was truly hoping the best for them. I was able to fully forgive their offenses against me when I finally acknowledged my part in it.

Then the resentment left and there came a lightness and peace I can’t even describe.

When I compare myself to others I can look pretty good, but looking at the cross is a different story. I purposed  to start focusing on my forgiveness and the cross. I started listening to music that focused on the cross. I really took a look at my identity in the cross of Jesus and I’m excited about what I’ve discovered.


When I focus on the cross I am reminded of His sacrificial love for me. I am reminded of my humanness and I can humbly embrace it, instead of hating myself for my human weaknesses.

The cross forces me to realize there is nothing I could ever do to repay him and Jesus doesn’t want me to try to. I decided I wanted to bring back from Romania a sterling silver cross that would remind me of this quiet revelation in the glorious Romanian autumn.

I can now understand why one might find a monastery appealing. I’m pondering the idea of taking one day a month to just be alone with God, to be quiet and listen for several hours uninterrupted, to fast and pray and seek Him. Because in that quiet I hear God more clearly. I read the Bible and the Holy Spirit illuminates my mind and opens my heart to truth.

I don’t want to wait until I return to Romania for that quiet time without responsibility. If I am able to set my phone aside and have quality time with a friend….I certainly am able to do the same for the one who shed His blood for me.



I would not want to be anywhere other than where I am right now. Not even on a cruiseship with my beloved, not on a plane to Paris, not anywhere else. I’m in Eastern Europe and in the past four years this is my sixth visit!


I am not a big time traveler, but you wouldn’t know it considering my history here. I’ve come to Eastern Europe three times with Danny, once with Cacey and kids and twice now by myself. Note “Eastern Europe” because there is a big difference between that and going to “Europe”….which by the way… I’ve never seen normal Europe, but everyone tells me there is a big difference.


I was that child who was happy as a clam playing dolls in my tidy bedroom, my first little nest. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have never left my present nest located on American soil had Marie not left. My love for her and her family pushed me out of my comfort zone.

I remember the lyrics of the song “Oceans” that originally confirmed to me I was to courageously go.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”

With such a strong conviction that God was calling me to go I had so many ideas of WHY I was to go…To share the good news of Jesus? To work in the baby hospital? To share with the teen girls on Friday night? So trip after trip I came and I did many things, but I always left thinking my being here feels really small. Physically I couldn’t do what I had imagined, like daily going to the baby hospital. However, clarity came before I left on this trip. I’ve been called to the ministry of the mundane.


This is a good thing….yes it is ordinary and unexciting, but I excel in the ordinary things of this world. I am slow and meticulous, that’s how I was designed by my designer. I thrive in unexciting…at home I still opt out of the Demolition Derby at our little Gold Country Fair. I guess that’s why as a child I loved my quiet room and my dolls. I still remember being scared out of my wits when everyone would holler at the TV with the Super Bowl on. Nothing has really changed.

I am a teacher at heart, so with the ministry of the mundane I can invest in my granddaughters, helping them with their English. They actually listen to me right now at their ages! We read together, we color together, we do puzzles together, we journal together, we eat together, we connect.



I know I am helping their parents by loving on their girls, plus I love doing it! I also love doing the ordinary, unexciting, mundane job of dishes and laundry and if it gives both Marie and Christian a break then I’m thankful! You see, on the other visits I did many of these mundane things, but I always tried to weigh it against the cost and came up what appeared unbalanced.


That is how things are in God’s economy. What I see as small, He values. I see through a glass darkly, but one day I shall see face to face. Until then I’m just your average lover of Jesus who happens to also be a late-bloomer!


Are You a Nester or a Wanderer?

Are you a nester or a wanderer? This journey of trying to sell our home and move has been rough on me, for I am a nester. Like a bird, gathering items from my travels, I bring them home with the sole intent to line the nest with them. I think I am married to a wanderer. He loves to travel and if possible drags (oops, invites) me along. I’m pretty agreeable as long as I have a firm date to return to the nest.


Last night my wanderer challenged me that I need to stop looking at possible new homes until our current home is firmly in escrow. He thinks it is making me anxious. The idea of having no idea where our next nest is doesn’t bother him at all. He has faith that God will provide. I do too! However, I don’t seem to be able to relax like he does. I lay there in bed beside him and prayed, “Lord help me understand what he is trying to tell me.”

I knew that looking at houses didn’t make me anxious, in fact it actually helps me relax somewhat – “Oh this could be my new nest!” “We could afford this little nest!” What was my wanderer trying to get across to me? I wasn’t getting it. He knows me better than anyone on this earth. Then my silent prayer was answered and I understood. I have been reverting to my childhood ways….

When I was a child and Christmas season came, my mother wrapped beautiful gifts and arranged them perfectly under the tree. It looked like a magazine. Daily I would sneak in there and lift each one carefully out and analyze it. I would turn it and listen, gently shake. What was it? Did I ask for it? Could it be such and such that cost so much? What if it was that thing I didn’t really want?


When I went to bed last night I thought, (spoiler alert – this  might offend some) “Is God like Santa Claus?”. Does my heavenly father have a good gift for me and can I trust him to bring me what I need and want? A new nest to enjoy and keep ready for when my wanderer returns from his sales trips? Do I need to tell Him what I need or want, like writing a letter to Santa?

We raised our children without writing lists to Santa, but rather writing lists of how they would give to others. We never had wrapped gifts under the tree but rather the nativity, to help them focus on the real meaning of Christmas. The gifts were there under the tree when they awakened on Christmas morning.

We were trying to encourage their focus. I think that is what my husband was trying to help me with when he was talking to me last night. My focus. Quit shaking and analyzing the real estate market. Quit trying to figure out where my new nest is. I hadn’t even wanted that nest, but maybe this is it! Quit being scared my new nest is something I didn’t want or need.

This morning one of my favorite songs, “Good, Good Father” came on and it was a lovely confirmation to me.

Oh and I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching for answers only you can provide
’cause you know just what we need before we say a word

You’re a good good father-
It’s who you are, It’s who you are, It’s who you are.
And I’m loved by you- It’s who I am, It’s who I am, It’s who I am.

So like an old fashioned Klein Family Christmas, I am going to focus on the now and the gifts He has given me today…my life, full with family and friends and His love and grace….and Watson.

And when that gift of a new nest comes, I’m going to just love it! I know I will, because He’s a good, good Father, it’s who He is.





The loss of another child…

My life took an abrupt change in 2012. In January, my oldest daughter and family moved to Eastern Europe to work with unwanted children. In February, my mother diagnosed with Alzheimer’s came to live with me. God used both of those events as a catalyst for change in my life. Part of that change has been to embrace how I feel and to be perfectly honest, I feel very deeply, so this is hard for me. I have had a lifetime of denying feelings, so it’s always hard to choose to embrace and move through them.

sadness  sadnessquote

Right now I am feeling very sad. Our family is experiencing child loss again. It’s only been 13 months since we lost Eisley. This time it is a failed adoption, because the family that begged so desperately for our help to readopt this child has now changed their mind and refuses to sign the relinquishment papers. It’s a situation ripe for bitterness.

noelan and pops  dress up

Our family has spent countless sacrificial hours and monies on behalf of this sweet little boy, only to be led on and used. Sarah and Tanner, Danny and I all together did emergency respite for eleven days. Marie and Christian hurriedly came to the states to come and start the expensive adoption process. Some would think them trusting and foolish, however this couple asking for their help were their close trusted friends. It’s a situation ripe for bitterness.

Library day  Processed with MOLDIV

We will have a long road to healing. Betrayal begets hatred and cynicism. We will have to go through the pain of watching Addy and Mercy devastated when on Sunday they are told that their little shadow affectionately called “bro bro” will be leaving for good on Monday. When someone hurts your children or your grandchildren it’s hard to think straight, the anger is so intense. It’s a situation ripe for bitterness.

uncle Aaron  tim and tia

Probably what hurts the most though, is what this selfish choice will do to a little boy whom I have come to love and call my grandson. In late January he came to this country from Africa, from a secure foster parent situation, into an unstable home, where after two weeks they demanded for him to be removed from the home.

with Cacey and Tanner welcoming teddy

So we took him and loved him and he has thrived. He loved being the youngest with sisters Mercy and Addy doting on him. Marie and Christian were loving, sacrificial parents to him and he has indeed attached to them. We know this by his desire to be close to them and his interaction with them. Whenever one is gone he is asking- “Where’s mama?” or “Where’s daddy?” I can’t think too much about how it will affect him, my righteous anger quickly morphs into losing it. It’s a situation ripe for bitterness.

uncle andrew  train ride

This morning I wrote in my grateful journal – “I am grateful that God’s power and willingness to answer prayer doesn’t depend on me in my weakness.” This recent journey has been an emotional roller coaster of being led along and lied to and to be perfectly honest I’m exhausted. I believe in miracles, but I also believe that God has given mankind a free will on this earth for a season. So sometimes we see horrific things happen to children because of mentally unstable people consumed by their own selfish desires.

Noelan and Taylor

This doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the sovereignty of God, I do. However, God is not the author of evil as so many try to make Him out to be. He is the one who brings beauty out of ashes…He is also the one who will rightly judge each one. In this I will choose to rest. Each day, as I wade through my sadness and bitterness I will also cling to the words of the Lord Jesus in Luke 6:36 where He tells me, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Frozen yogurt   snuggles with Doh

I also will pray that God would have special grace and mercy upon Nolean Truth Klein Burtt, my sweet grandson for three whole months. Please join me in that prayer when you think of him.

Walking WatsonProcessed with MOLDIV




Dear God, I’ve become my mother…

Why is it that women fear we will become like our mothers? I’m not exactly sure why. Perhaps it is the struggle for identity as we are growing up that we try so hard to be different.

We look at things we missed in childhood and desperately try to make sure we give our children these same things we feel we lacked…yet we don’t realize the things we had.

mama wedding

I feel like I’ve taken a lifetime to grow up… Or perhaps it is better to say a lifetime to shed my cocoon. And in shedding it I’ve discovered my mother in me.

At first I was appalled and now I’m delighted. I always thought I looked like my dad. I did get his nose and larger frame but as I’ve aged I look in the mirror and at pictures and I see my mother. I have her eyes, both shape and color. Her best friend saw this photo of me helping Spencer drive our boat and commented, “I see Bethany there.”

mama driving boat

Not only do I also see her, but I hear her too. Words come out of my mouth that I swore I’d never say. Thoughts go through my head that I remember her voicing when she was sixty. Its just plain weird. So on the brink of my sixtieth birthday I’ve decided to embrace it because my mom is a part of me, a very good part of me.

I’m grateful for her instilling in me diligent hard work. I’m grateful for her smile and ability to laugh, even at herself. My silly sense of humor comes from my mom. I’m grateful for her example of devotion to her family and friends when they were sick or hurting. She gave me that and people admire it in me. I learned it from my mom.

mama and me

However, she also gave me her moaning gene. I think it came from her mom. I think one of my daughters got it. Every time I moan, I think, “Oh my goodness! I swore I would never do that like her!” My mother also taught me to be a strong woman, and I in turn raised strong daughters.

One of my favorite adult movies is Spanglish with Tea Leoni, Paz Vega and Cloris Leachman. The main reason I like it so much is the mother/daughter dynamics throughout it. They are so complex and it shows how these dynamics can be so confusing.

The movie ends with an adult daughter writing on her university application essay about a crisis moment with her mother when she was young. Her mother said she had to ask her a very difficult question even though the daughter was such a young age. The question was this – .

“Is what you want for yourself is to become someone very different than me?”

mama spanglish

In hindsight, I realize that for most of my life I did want to be very different than my mother. We had a hard time connecting for a variety of reasons, one being my lack of understanding of who God created me uniquely to be.

At the end of the movie Spanglish, the daughter concludes on her university application essay that she hopes she is accepted but regardless of acceptance or rejection she knows this one thing- “My identity rests firmly and happily on one fact, I am my mother’s daughter.”

I get this now. I still miss my mother, I have days that I ache for her. Next month will be two years since she left this earth. I feel like I understand her better each day. She told me I would understand her when I’m older. She had made the same discovery with her own mother.


I’m thankful for the thought of a future opportunity to really get to know my mother better and to listen to her without any of these earthly struggles. I’m thinking that we will have a chance like never before to connect and understand each other.

All things will be made right, because that’s the promise of heaven.

And because I am my mother’s daughter.

mama quote

Answering a Random Question…about head coverings

I received the following question via a Facebook message from an acquaintance who has loved and served Jesus for many years.

“I have a question for you …this is pretty random, but you are the only person I know who used to wear a “head covering”. We have a couple young ladies at church who are asking a lot of questions as to why we don’t follow what the Bible says about women and head coverings, they have since started wearing one, and my daughter is the one they are coming to with questions , could you shed some light on why you did wear one and why you stopped.”

It’s an honest question and I’m happy to do my best to answer it. Not only did I wear a head covering for several years, but I also required and instructed two of our daughters to wear head coverings, when they were preteens. The idea comes from the New Testament in 1st Corinthians 11 where Paul instructs women to cover their heads when praying. It is symbolic of a woman’s agreement with Biblical Patriarchy teachings.

Books have been written for and against this subject, so I’ll try to make this as short and concise as possible. Let me start with part of my friend’s question, “could you shed some light on why you did wear one?”

My story starts on a Sunday evening, October 16, 1971 when my life changed radically. By a series of events in my life, I ended up at a church service with a friend. I was finally at the end of myself and along with that the Lord God was passionately pursuing me to turn from sin and self. With His help I did just that. I was a young girl the age of 15, very insecure and not really knowing who I was.

I was living on the wild side and my friend who has invited me to church had more wisdom than most adult Christians…instead of telling me to quit smoking cigarettes or marijuana, she told me “Don’t worry about anything, the Holy Spirit will take care of it all.” And the Holy Spirit, now indwelling me, did just that! He removed old desires and gave me new desires. It was that supernatural experience that Jesus explained to Nicodemus in the 3rd chapter of the book of John.

What do I remember most about that church? Those people loved me exactly as I was, imperfect. It was a beautiful thing to experience. Of course there were problems, this is a broken world we live in, but after all these years that first fellowship was one of the most loving I’ve ever known. I met my sweet husband Danny there and was married there and our first two children were dedicated to Jesus there. Life was good.

A family friend started telling us about the homeschooling movement and we thought about it. Since our oldest still took a two hour nap and had a fall birthday, we decided to wait one more year to enroll him in our local private Christian school. By the time the next school year had rolled around, we were convinced the Lord would have us embark on the amazing and challenging journey of home educating our children. This venture would gap six children and 28 years of teaching.

It was through home schooling conferences and magazines and books and groups that I learned of the patriarch movement. We both were first generation Christians and desperately wanted to follow God and raise a Christian family. We were convinced there were things we needed to do in order to succeed and one was to follow the Bible’s instructions closely.

Let me pause and make something very clear – I love the Holy Bible and I have studied the scriptures for the past 44 years. However, the Bible can be a complicated book to understand, especially when we try to follow it literally. I started covering my head because I was trying to do just that – obey the Bible. Sounds okay, how could there be anything wrong with that?

What was wrong is it caused my eyes to get off of Jesus and onto myself. It caused me to start looking at God’s Holy Word as a book of rules rather than the love letter it is. It caused me to start on the long slippery slope of legalism. (See for more info on what exactly legalism is.) We all tend to go there. The tragic thing about legalism is the bar is never high enough, and we are always left striving.

I thought I was pursuing holiness and that would make God pleased with me. The Bible actually teaches that holiness is the result of pursuing Jesus, not something we should pursue. I did not understand my identity in Christ and years later I would discover that God is pleased with me because I am His creation and not because of anything I had or had not done.

So the bar got higher, I started wearing a head covering at church, and then in my private prayer times. Then I was “challenged” by  someone that said, “Doesn’t the Bible say to be always praying?” The bar was raised again and I started to wear it all the time. I started to read only the translation that was deemed acceptable by these peers.

Our family even changed denominations and started attending a church that was more “like-minded” and agreed with the following: “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” published by Vision Forum.

  • God reveals Himself as masculine, not feminine.
  • God ordained distinct gender roles for man and woman as part of the created order.
  • A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector.
  • Male leadership in the home carries over into the church: only men are permitted to hold the ruling office in the church. A God-honoring society will likewise prefer male leadership in civil and other spheres.
  • Since the woman was created as a helper to her husband, as the bearer of children, and as a “keeper at home”, the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home.
  • God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” still applies to married couples.
  • Christian parents must provide their children with a thoroughly Christian education, one that teaches the Bible and a biblical view of God and the world.
  • Both sons and daughters are under the command of their fathers as long as they are under his roof or otherwise the recipients of his provision and protection.

I bought this hook, line and sinker.  It was easier for me than most women as I was married to an unselfish man who truly loved Jesus and truly loved me. That brings me to the second part of my friend’s question, “could you shed some light on why you stopped?” I remember that day distinctly, as it was a day that the bondage that had overtaken my Christian walk was shattered. I am so thankful.

I was in my late 30’s and had become seriously and chronically ill. in hindsight I am sure much of my illness was generated from the stress of living a legalistic Christian life and being in a church with others doing the same. I was laying on the couch exhausted and the knot of that bandanna tied at the back of my neck was hurting. I said out loud, “I am so SICK of wearing this thing”. My husband looked at me and gently asked, “Then why do you continue to do it?” I was dumbfounded.

My husband had allowed me the freedom to follow what I thought God was calling me to. For a Godly man, it is a real burden to have to micromanage everyone in the family, including your adult wife. It’s hard enough to work out your own salvation and keep your own heart right before God. As I again studied the scriptures on head coverings, I realized these passages were truly cultural and not applicable to our 21st century lives. The head covering came off for good.

Time has proven that for many men in the Patriarch movement the temptation to be so focused on managing their wife and children has resulted in them neglecting their own life. Plenty of them became selfishly controlling and abusive. We now know many leaders in this movement had hidden lives of sexual sin and their families have suffered the consequences.

Several of my friends who spent years trying to live as if they were women of the first century, I now know have lived quietly under abusive situations. Some feel like they failed somehow. Some have divorced and others continue to live a life behind a facade. And some, like myself, have found the courage to say we think we were wrong.

I now regret how I instructed my daughters and other women to submit to their husbands. I thought I was giving them Biblical instruction. I realize now that much of this Biblical instruction was given to the first century church in a culture where women had the same rights of cattle…basically no rights. Jesus came as a liberator of men and women both. I believe much of Paul’s instruction was for the purpose of keeping civil order in that culture.

We do live in the 21st century and we do have rights in this society as women. I think that choosing to live without accountability in our marriages is simply not wise. Much of the truth in the Holy Bible was truth written for that specific culture, head coverings being one of them. In healthy Christian homes we help each other, submit one to another, and ALL submit to Christ.

In Ephesians 4:1-3 Paul says, “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”

So how are those daughters doing? Those girls who were taught to submit and had to endure wearing head coverings? Well, they were also taught to think and use the wonderful mind that God gave them. One challenged me to read the book “Jesus Feminist” by Sarah Bessey. This is one of the most encouraging, humble books I’ve read. It helped rekindle my first love for Jesus years ago.

These daughters have grown up strong and know who they are in Christ. They are amazing wives and mothers. They are proof positive that God establishes His own. They hold their uncovered heads high and I am learning to do the same.


Letters to Eisley #4

Dear Eisley,

I feel like if you were here life would be settled, steadfast. With you gone, I feel shaky all over and unsure of myself. I think I am doing okay and then I hear sadness in the voices of those that love you or watch another gut-wrenching story on the news and I get so overwhelmed. I used to shut down or smother the feelings with food. As I have tried to stop doing that the feelings hurt so much. The smallest thing can be a trigger. Oh Eisley if I could just hold you over my shoulder and hear you let out a burp and say “Good job!” like I have always done with your cousins, I think life would be okay.

Your Grammie just realized I having some form of panic attacks. They are not stress induced…I take it so easy it feels ridiculous. They are feelings induced…these smothered stuffed feelings are coming out of I don’t know where and they choke me, they get bottled up in my chest and it is so physically painful, I think I am having a heart attack, and the pain scares me. The pain makes me miss your great-grandmother, my mama, the one you were given her middle name – Hope. She was so good to me when I was hurting. She took care of me Please tell her thanks for me and that I really do miss her and I’m sorry about Debbie, that there’s nothing I can do. I tried so hard, she knows I tried, she saw that I tried.

I’m scared I realize. I’m scared that our family will never be okay again.  Sometimes I just want to die and go with you. When I was in the ER, I thought about you and if it wasn’t for your pops I would have gladly gone. Maybe this is why I want to now move to Auburn, maybe in reality I just want everything tidy for Pops so I can join you. But I don’t think Jesus will let me yet. There’s been too much pain for this family, your pops, your mama and daddy, your aunties and uncles and your cousins. We all are hurting without you. We feel broken and shaky and unstable. Okay baby girl, Grammie is making a concerted choice not to swear in my letter to you, but let me just tell you it is the pits without you and it’s really scary.

But then there are good days and we smile, like on last Sunday there was a party at the Vaughan’s (Oh you would have LOVED being held by Jeanne) for our 40th anniversary and everything was so nice, and just the right people we needed to not feel overwhelmed…. Aaron and Cacey, Your mama and daddy, Jeanne and Bob, my friend-in-law Jennifer and hubby Jim, my friend-in-law Christine and hubby Johnny, Pastor Greg and Laura, Pastor Lorin and Starla and your Auntie Sheri. That was a run on sentence baby girl, but I don’t care, because this really is written just for you and for me. You don’t judge your Grammie’s grammar. I don’t have to be perfect.

And you know what Eisley? You didn’t have to be perfect either. We would have gladly welcomed you and made you a part of this imperfect family had God allowed you to live longer. And I’m sobbing baby girl because your Grammie is so sad for so many reasons, losing you being just the tip of the iceberg. So much loss in this world baby girl. And God made me sensitive so it hurts really bad to see little refugee Syrian boys like 3 year old Aylan washed up dead from the sea.

For years Pastor Dave told me thick skin, tender heart. It seems everything is tender about me, Eisley Hope. I will no longer compare myself to others and tell myself I should be doing better. I will just be who I am, hurting how I am. I will work on letting these (&%#^*#! feelings out of me (That’s how you swear in the presence of a little one my love). I’ve had a lot of loss these past years and there’s a lot of feelings I have been stuffing that I guess need to come out.

So let me turn my thoughts to you. I’d like to think of your cleft palate healed with the tiniest of tiniest scars so we can remember His healing in your new body. I’d like to think that he has allowed your unique extra fingers and heart shaped big toes to remain because we loved your uniqueness. I’d like to think that you helped welcome Aylan into heaven and you are showing him the ropes. I’d like to think that Ted is playing grandpa with you and telling you stories of your mama when she would visit his family in New York.

I see sunshine and flowers when I think of you. Blue skies and mountains and lots of green….oh the drought here has made most people quit watering and there isn’t much green. I would think there would be water in heaven, maybe a beautiful rippling stream that you can stick your toes in and giggle. Tell Aylan that the water is safe there!

I’m hoping you get to read these. I believe anything is possible with our God. If you do then you will get to know me a little better until I come. Tender everything and missing you, but one day reunited face to face.

Love you my sweet Eisley,