A Cut Chapter from Adopting Grace

As I worked with my writing coach, he helped me to double check the "arc of the story" of Adopting Grace: A Parenting Journey from Fear to Freedom. I imagine that it is a challenge for all writers to see the bigger picture on their own projects. The coaching process and a set of more objective eyes led to one perfectly good chapter getting the heave ho. 

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My Book, My Heart

I have had quite the April this year. Between helping a daughter rehab a broken elbow (we had no idea that this would involve 6 months of physical therapy and home exercises post-surgery), helping another do all the things needed to get ready for high school and an Outward Bound week, AND finishing the writing part of my book, I am both exhilarated and exhausted! Those are just bonus activities added to our already very full and abundant life. It has been quite the helpful change to me personally and our family as a whole for my husband to ramp down to a 60% schedule. 

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Poetry From the Mouths of Babes

“Poetry consists of words and phrases and sentences that emerge like something coming out of water. They emerge before us, and they call up something in us. But then they turn us back into our own silence. And that’s why reading poetry, reading it alone silently takes us someplace where we can’t get ordinarily. Poetry opens us to this otherness that exists within us. Don’t you think? You read a poem and you say, “Ah.” And then you listen to what it brings out inside of you. And what it is, is not words; it’s silence.” Marilyn Nelson in a recent OnBeing podcast.

During this particular time in my life as an American citizen, my heart delights and finds rest in poetry. From the Psalms to the words of African American poets to those of children, poetry reaches something deep down inside my soul. On a recent stressful day, I filled up my bathtub, sprinkled in baking soda, Epsom salt, and essential oils, and I just floated. I moved my limbs through the steamy liquid, and it pulled the worries and anxiety right out of my rigid body. That is sometimes how it feels when I listen to or read poetry. Other times, my heart is touched, and I am propelled to ponder the deeper, more complicated sides of life. And sometimes I am moved to action.

About a week ago, I showed up at a downtown park to hear my seventh grade daughter, along with her fellow classmates, read or recite “change makers” poems that they had written. It was a gorgeous, blue skied, North Carolina day. I was both inspired and comforted. Our American future looks bright. These kids are thoughtful, passionate, and full of grace. They will work for justice.

In my daughter’s poem, there is one section that makes me squirm a bit. I am not a savior, though I have tried to be one at times. I have MUCH MORE to say about that matter in my upcoming book – Adopting Grace: A Parenting Journey Out of Legalism. Stay tuned…

Taking a cue from Marilyn Nelson, I will share a few of the poems that I took in as I stood in a downtown square.  I will end this blog without commentary. I hope that you are then, “turned back into your own silence.” Enjoy.



By Barrett D.

(edited by me. Barrett had a lot to say!)


I walk into a store

And turn my head to the right

I see the boys section

Blue, black, and red

I turn my head to the left

I see the girls section

Pink, sparkles, and ruffles


I ask why?


A few terrorists make a mistake

All of sudden

The whole race is bad


I ask why?


I turn on the TV

Sports is on

It’s always boys playing

And girls are the cheerleaders


I ask why?


Growing up in a world of lies

Everybody says the world is perfect

But it’s not

I discovered that this world is far from perfect


So I ask why?


You say people who love

the same gender as they are,

aren’t equal

That you can only love the opposite gender

You say they're not right


I ask why?


We are all humans

We need to accept people for who they are

And not for what they could be


So live life on the edge

Gain momentum as you go along

Don’t let the opposing force of others

Bring you down

And definitely,

don’t let others push you around


I’d ask why again but

I’ve asked so much already

So instead, i’ll say

My  motto


There will be a day

When there’s no more tears

no more pain

No more fears


There will be a day

When the presence of this world

Will be made new

Will be made great


And there will be a day

When people will change

When people accept

And people will forgive


There will be a day

When you will know my name



Hidden Children

By Hannah W.


In a room that slowly pulls away faith

When you walk in

a glimmer of hope emerges in their face

Through their eyes you can read everything like a book

They wait for the first page of hope to be written

They have so many torn pages behind them

that the true story becomes unclear

Blackouts on almost every page


When they talk

they hold out fresh pages waiting to see what you write

They give you something special and

one wrong move will upset the balance

To them they are forced into a box

blocked from their own voice


I should know

I was in an orphanage at a young age

Trying to balance not being loved

With not being heard


My book tells a story

Ripped pages behind but clean ones before me

What changed?

I found a home

And parents that love me


400,000 children across the US without homes

Find your own voice

Help one person so that they can help themselves

and then maybe one more

Start a ripple of new beginnings in a polluted ocean

You can’t erase the pages you wrote

but you can choose what gets written next

make a change



Unbalanced, Unfair

By Parker F.


This is how it is

Our friends and family afraid

Afraid of coming out

More afraid of themselves

Than being bullied and teased

Afraid of being put under at the dentist

In fear they’ll say something to give it away


This is how it is

Vanilla so much more valued than chocolate

Chocolate fighting to stay on the menu

Just because of the food coloring

Dark chocolate beat and neglected

Vanilla praised and living the life

Just by default


This is how it is

Our mothers and fathers. Same job

Daddy’s balance rising faster

Mommy with a fifth less

Ratio: 80 to 100

Still no women president

Ratio: 0 to 45


This is how it is

Islam, a bad thing

Muslims rightfully fearful

Scared of being a victim of a hate crime

Government officials can’t get back home

Refugees fleeing war can’t get a new start

Stuck in a select few countries


This is how it is

Pulse Nightclub, Orlando

Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X

Women get $0.80 for a man’s $1.00

Yaseen, Hanna, Sulaiman, Rayann

This is how it is

Forces pushing and pullingf

Unbalanced, unfair


We can change how it is

You know it

You’ve seen it

You can change it

Spread awareness, don’t remain silent

Make our world balanced, fair












A long goodbye

I was raised in what would now be referred to as an American evangelical church. Over the years this term “evangelical” has gotten murky and entangled and confusing. It has become conjoined with Republican politics and often times all twisted up with hatred and disdain for those deemed as “other”.

 I moved out into the world with my share of baggage courtesy of a religious tradition that emphasized fear and hell and the absolutes of right and wrong. But this place also introduced me to Jesus, who in time I have come to know and love and view with eyes of wonder in seasons of sorrow as well as joy. As Philip Yancey says, “the Jesus I never knew”.

 Saint John the Evangelist is my very favorite gospel writer and a verse from one of his letters has literally changed my heart and mind over the last ten years. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” This evangelical apostle proclaimed something radically different from those who carry his title these days in these parts of the world.

 I have watched this week with a sense of morbid curiosity coupled with a most unsettling disturbance deep within my soul as 1000 evangelical leaders met with Donald Trump to form political alliance with one many of them had very recently deemed a completely unacceptable candidate for president. One of the men quoted in this Atlantic article married my husband and me. I feel heartbroken and devastated on many a level.



 When these leaders speak of religious liberty, are they in pursuit of such a cause for Christians only? Does this not raise a red flag of hypocrisy for them? Have they been seduced by the promise of power? Here is what Mr. Trump said to them as they met:

 “This is such an important election. And I say to you folks because you have such power, such influence. Unfortunately the government has weeded it away from you pretty strongly. But you’re going to get it back. Remember this: If you ever add up, the men and women here are the most important, powerful lobbyists. You’re more powerful. Because you have men and women, you probably have something like 75, 80 percent of the country believing. But you don’t use your power. You don’t use your power.”

 Is that the deal that evangelical leaders are willing to make? Has fear blinded them or are they walking into this eyes wide open? Have they traded being disciple for being lobbyist? The Jesus that I know had no interest at all in power.

 As unsettling as this situation is for me personally, it has been once again clarifying. Tricia Wilson belongs somewhere radically different from the American evangelical church. Micah 6:8 asks and answers, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” For me, this path is far, far away from the religious tradition of my youth. I never felt at home in the midst of American evangelical spaces and places. Piece by piece, little by little, I have moved away from this place. This week seems to have offered me one last wave in a long goodbye.







It's who you know

Many of us have either been told or directly experienced the “it’s who you know” phenomenon in social, educational or work life. Despite the inequity of such a principle, it is alive and well and inescapable within our culture.

As my state of North Carolina has made national news in recent days after passing House Bill 2, aka HB2, the “it’s who you know” idea has presented itself to my heart and mind, with a twist. Though it contains a great deal more, the headline grabbing portion of this bill has to do with which bathroom a transgendered person can legally use. From my perspective, there is a great deal of fear mongering coupled with true ignorance around a specific group of people that is largely misunderstood and at times de-humanized.

The sign in a downtown restaurant

The sign in a downtown restaurant

Often when these types of events begin trending in local or national news, my personal response is anger. This time, I felt a heavy sadness. There has been a bunch of name-calling and political posturing on both sides. Yet all the while, the people at the center of this drama are our fellow human beings. I wonder how it feels to be one of them as they are talked about and demonized. I can only imagine that each of their roads to the place of choosing to transgender has been paved with pain and suffering.

Which of us has not changed our heart and mind about a particular prejudice toward a “type” of person after truly getting to know them, one individual at a time? Whether it is transgender, gay, poor, homeless, Muslim, liberal, conservative, or any other designation we attach to another, when we truly listen to and interact with someone as fellow human, hearts and minds change. It is only when we keep “the other” at arms length that we are comfortable shouting slurs or disparaging whole groups of people.

Within family, when someone we love reveals being part of a previously feared or disdained group, we almost always move forward together with time, communication, understanding and true love. It is rare to truly renounce someone we love over such matters. When rejection of a loved one is the choice, there is always great pain, suffering and destruction within the one scorned as well as the larger family or community.

I recently previewed a wonderful book by Kent Annan entitled Slow Kingdom Coming – Practices for Doing Justice, Loving Mercy and Walking Humbly in the World. He states, “It’s vital for us to enter into the truth of other people’s lives. We’ll see the world differently.” How very true.

I know and love people who wrestle with gender identity, and I live life in friendship with parents who walk alongside children who are figuring out their own gender, sexuality and place in this world. They are not to be feared nor disgraced but deserve support, unconditional love and grace as they navigate a world that can throw hatred and judgment their way. When much of the vitriol is launched in the name of God, I am most sad and discouraged.

So if there is a people group that makes us squirm or we just don’t get, the challenge is to live a life that will cross paths with such individuals. Sometimes they show up next door, along the path of everyday life or right in our own families. If we open our ears and hearts and form relationship, there is much to learn. It truly is so very often who we know.