Archive for the Family

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Had I but known . . . Help me!






Less than a month from now is the 40th anniversary of my becoming a mother. Had I but known that 40 years into mothering there would still be so many things I wish I knew. . . . There are so many things I thought I knew, but I didn’t really. There are so many things I hadn’t even thought about knowing, things waiting to bless me or to blindside me.

That’s my speaking topic, especially as it regards adoption, at Together for Adoption 2012 in Atlanta, September 14-15–what I didn’t know:

  • If we just love our child enough . . .
  • Some children are added by birth and some by adoption–it’s a simple as that  . . .
  • We will treat our adopted child just as we do the ones who were born to us . . .
  • We will never blame adoption for difficulties our child may have . . .
  • and . . . and . . . and . . .

I need your help. If you’re a parent by birth or by adoption or both, I need your help based on your experience. If you know someone who’s a parent by birth or adoption, I need your help based on your observations.

  • What do you wish you’d known as you launched into parenting, whether by adoption or by birth?
  • What have you learned or are you experiencing that’s very different than what you’d expected, whether happy or hard?
  • What were you totally ignorant about at the beginning that you’re learning by experience?
  • What unexpected things have blessed you?
  • What unexpected things have blindsided you?
Those are just sample questions. You get the idea.

Your comments will prime the pump of my own thoughts as I prepare, but I will in no way compromise your privacy. In fact, if it makes it easier, feel free to respond anonymously via the comments to this post, or by using the comment button above to send me an email.

(In the spirit of “What I didn’t know,” I’ll announce in the next couple of days a gift that I’ll send to 2 commenters, randomly chosen.)


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Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Together for Adoption 2012: win a registration






Adoption changed our lives. A couple of years ago, I wrote a series of posts telling some of our family’s adoption story. It begins here.

We knew lots of people who had adopted, and their experiences had taught us a lot. What I didn’t know, though, was how much we still would be learning now, 16 years into being an adoptive family.

That’s what I plan to talk about when I speak at Together for Adoption 2012 in Atlanta, September 14-15–What I Wish I’d Known.

The organizers have graciously given me registrations to share with 6 of you. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Visit the Together for Adoption website and look over the conference information. If you subscribe to the Together for Adoption blog, that earns you an additional entry.
  2. Use your social media outlets to tell others about this chance to win a registration. Each additional social medium earns you an additional entry into the drawing. For example, if you were to link to this contest post from your blog and from Twitter and from Facebook, that would be 3 entries. (If you don’t use any social media, you may use email to send a bunch of friends the link to this blog post.)
  3. Comment once at this post to let me know you have completed #1 and #2 and to report any of the optional extras you’ve completed.
  4. Deadline is 11:59 pm cst, Monday, June 18.Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living through the Rediscovery of Abba Father

I hope I’ll see you in Atlanta.

(If  you want a headstart, I recommend Reclaiming Adoption, edited by Dan Cruver.)



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If you make a purchase after you click on a product link in a post here or after you use an on-line shopping link in the sidebar at my travel blog, I receive a small commission, which costs you nothing extra. I recommend only items that I think will be of interest to my readers and that I probably have used personally or wish I did. 


Please visit my travel blog too–Tell Me When To Pack.

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Sunday, May 13th, 2012

What I learned from my Mother

Months before the celebration of Mother and Daddy’s 40th wedding, my sister Pamela dreamed of a quilt to honor Daddy and Mother and to express thanks for the years God had given them together.

Pamela recruited squares from each of the sisters and sisters-in-law. . . . Then Pamela assembled, quilted, and stenciled the gift for Daddy and Mother.

As I look over the squares of this quilt, from oldest child to youngest of us 10 children of George and Pam Henry, I’m reminded of a few of the things I’ve learned by being my mother’s daughter. . . . (Read and/or listen to the rest of “What I Learned by Being My Mother’s Daughter”-and there are photos of all the family quilt blocks.)

Happy Mothers Day, dear Mother! I love you.



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Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

That’s not fair!

Our son, Barnabas, comments in World Magazine  online about winning and losing. He begins:

Recently, as we were flipping through radio stations in the car, my 6-year-old daughter heard the song “We Are the Champions” by Queen. She asked what a champion is, and we started talking about winning and losing. At one point in the conversation she said, “Winning isn’t fair because not everyone can do it.” Her response is, sadly, quite common. (Read the rest of what he has to say about the idea that “everyone is a winner.”)

In contrast, there are cultures where life’s primary impetus or “encouragement”  is shame. In such a culture, this would be true for children in school, for spouses toward each other, for employers toward employees. It would be true in every arena.

But let’s just stay in the child-rearing part of life’s arena, since that’s what Barnabas is focusing on. To give you an idea of what I mean when I name shame as prime motivator, here’s what one Chinese mother says:

The fact is that Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable—even legally actionable—to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, “Hey fatty—lose some weight.” By contrast, Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of “health” and never ever mentioning the f-word, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image. . . .

Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best. Chinese parents can say, “You’re lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you.” By contrast, Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement, and try to persuade themselves that they’re not disappointed about how their kids turned out.

So, there are the two precipices to avoid:

1. Everyone is a winner.

2. You are nothing, because someone else is performing better than you.

That mesa is not even the right place to be maneuvering, trying to stay somewhere between the two treacherous precipices.

What do I want to say instead to a child I love or on whose upbringing I have some influence? I think of many things, but here’s one way to say it.

“The LORD is  the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable” (Is. 40:28).

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together  for good,  for  those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Your God, your Creator, your Father loves you and knows you better than anyone else can ever know you. He wants you to be blessed, happy. He also knows what he wants you to achieve, and he offers you magnificent, out-of-this-world rewards. His desires for you?

  •  Blessed are  the poor in spirit, for  theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  •  Blessed are  those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
  •  Blessed are the  meek, for they  shall inherit the earth.
  •  Blessed are those who hunger and  thirst  for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
  •  Blessed are  the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
  •  Blessed are  the pure in heart, for  they shall see God.
  •  Blessed are  the peacemakers, for  they shall be called  sons  of God.
  •  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for  theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  •  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely  on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven . . . . (Matt. 5:3-12)
I hope you’ll notice that his primary desires for your happiness don’t mention anything scholarly or professional, though fulfilling his desires will affect these and all aspects of your life.
Does his list seem overwhelming? Just remember this: He knows your weaknesses, and you can achieve what he wants you to achieve, through him who strengthens you (Phil. 4:13).
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Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Compassionate heart














There are many reasons I thank God for our Talitha. The one I’m thinking about right now is this: I love to watch her tender heart in action. I see that compassion especially when she’s reaching out to young children. Whether it’s nieces and nephews or strangers, none views her as a stranger for long.

Last year, we visited Redeemer Bible Church one vacation Sunday. They had visitors representing Compassion International. At the end of the service, Talitha made a beeline to Compassion’s table at the back of the sanctuary. By the time I made my way there, she was clasping to her heart a photo of Juan. “Please, please, please. May I sponsor this sweet little boy in Guatemala?”

Now she writes to Juan, and he writes to her. A few months ago, a translator sent Talitha this message on Juan’s behalf:

When he saw you [a photo], his face lit up in smiles and tears of happiness. He asked God to meet you one day in person, to be able to speak to you.

So you can imagine the “Please, please, please” that followed when Talitha found out there’s a Compassion Sponsor’s trip to Guatemala in July, when she will indeed get to meet Juan, Lord willing.

And she invited me to come too. A mother doesn’t take it lightly when her teenager wants to be with her. So both of us are preparing for Guatemala.

Talitha’s excitement about Compassion’s ministry doesn’t stop with sponsoring and traveling. On her own, she’s taken the initiative to set up and man a Compassion information table at Bethlehem Downtown campus on Compassion Sunday weekend–before and after the service Saturday evening, April 21, and the Sunday morning services April 22.

Please stop by to pick up information about Compassion International. If God is leading you to sponsor a child, you’ll find packets there to choose from, so you can sign up on the spot. It would be hard to measure what a blessing that would be to Talitha, to see you blessing a child who lives in a difficult situation.

Request to you:

1. If you already are sponsoring a child through Compassion, please comment here to let us know.

2. If you’re familiar with Compassion, and can help Talitha at the Compassion table Saturday evening or Sunday morning, April 21 and 22, she’d love to hear from you.


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Saturday, March 31st, 2012

My son, the radio commentator

Sports commentary is not my thing, except when it’s by someone I’m especially interested in–like our son Barnabas.

Hear him in a World Magazine podcast, as he thinks out loud about March Madness, underdogs, & Easter.


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Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Twin Cities: Groupon for our favorite gym

Lion’s Gym, our old favorite, is offering a Groupon deal this weekend. (If the link doesn’t open the Lion’s Gym page on Groupon, click “all deals” on the menu strip at the top.)

If you live in the Twin Cities and you’ve been thinking you really ought to get back in to a fitness routine, check it out. Lion’s Gym has two locations now–in St. Louis Park and in Robbinsdale.

When you go, tell Stephen that Noel sent you. It’ll be as good as if you area already his old friend. Please let me know when you sign up, so I can high-five you.

Below is what I wrote a year ago about Lion’s Gym and Stephen & Leah Menya, the owners.


with Stephen MenyaWe ran into a friend who felt her life had been changed by training with Stephen Menya and Leah Menya (page down on “our team” page) at Lions Gym.

I have to say, my first drive-by impression was underwhelming. If I hadn’t been looking for the gym, I wouldn’t have noticed it, tucked between a tanning salon and something else in a mini-stripmall sort of building.

But we all know it’s what inside that counts. And our friend was very persuasive, so we signed up. It was amazing.

Here are some of the things I like about Lion’s Gym:

  • There’s a flavor of Africa in Stephen’s voice and words and laughter and often in the music playing.
  • He calls us Mamá and Papá as he would any other people his parents’ generation in his home village in Kenya.
  • After our one initial session, Stephen knew what we needed. Mamá needs to work on her abs. Papá needs to strengthen his lower back.
  • Stephen sets the tone at the gym, and he is outgoing, happy, and funny.
  • He introduces members to each other so we introverts can’t just sweat and be miserable in our separate corners.
  • Stephen and Leah are Christian believers, and we have prayed together about challenges in their life and business.
  • When we arrive, we sometimes hear worship music playing.
  • Where else would the encouragement to push harder be, “Don’t waste your reps!”
  • Stephen and other staff train all 3 of us at the same time, cycling us through sets on separate machines or sets of weights. I have seen them work effectively with 6 at the same time, each doing different exercises.
  • Most important, the trainers know their stuff and are good teachers. We always appreciate the breather when we pause so they can show us a chart and explain how some group of muscles works so our exercise makes sense to us.
  • Occasionally we get to see their wonderful toddler Sam. He drops into knee bends at the prompt of  ”up – down – up – down.”
  • Finally, you know that I care about life being accessible to people with disabilities. Recently, I found out that Stephen and Leah rearranged all those monstrously heavy machines so that one client who is visually impaired can make his own way around independently while he is working out.

Postscript: Matt Ledbetter joined the staff after I wrote the above. He’s good. I’ve seen him working winningly and effectively with both ends of the fitness spectrum: high-level athletes at one end and at the other end, elderly people who can hardly walk into the gym.

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Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Superman is my valentine

I found the perfect valentine card for Johnny–with the famous giant S in a shield on the front. He’ll be the first to admit he’s not perfect, but I say he’s super nonetheless.

And I have a picture to prove it. My valentine is a super man.

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Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

“I wasn’t born”

Life with Talitha — part 5

As long as I have a memory, I will know what date it was that Talitha learned what a birth mother is.

On a bitter, freezing January 22–in 2001–we stood with thousands of others outside the Minnesota Capitol, rallying for Life.

Talitha pointed to the line drawing on a poster raised high in the distance. “Look, there’s a picture of a baby being born–like baby Elizabeth!” I could see it was really a sketch of a partial birth abortion, but she didn’t need to know yet the horrors of that.

So I picked up the flow of her thought. “Yes, like your little friend. And like you.”

She quickly corrected me, “I wasn’t born. I was adopted.”

I had been thinking for a while it was time to expect questions from Talitha about her birth. Adoption was an everyday word and concept in our family, but we hadn’t yet talked about one very important person to whom we owe great gratitude.

Question or no, now was the time. And so on the stately steps of the capitol, I stooped to look into her eyes. “Talitha, first you were born and then you were adopted.” I explained that she had grown inside another woman–her birth mother–who could have chosen abortion, but instead protected her and gave birth to her.

Talitha carried home a “Choose Life” poster and put it in her bedroom window.

Today I thank God for the woman who gave birth to our beloved Talitha.


For many of us, being pro-life has changed our families through adoption. A couple of years ago I wrote a series of blog posts telling our adoption story. It begins here

A follow-up series, Life with Talitha, begins here.

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Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Mourning God knows who

Today I am thinking of only-God-knows-how-many people whose names only God knows. Maybe 52 million?

The oldest of our 5 children was born just 3 months before the US Supreme Court’s Roe versus Wade decision which was delivered on January 22, 1973. That means that those millions of babies — people — killed over the last 39 years are the peers of all my children. Only God knows which of them might potentially have been their playmates, classmates, work partners.

In a few minutes I’ll be gathering with other worshippers at Bethlehem’s south campus to hear my husband’s message to us on this heartbreaking anniversary.

I hope this day might be different than other Sundays for you. Perhaps you might:

  • be gathering with others to let your presence proclaim your honoring of the sanctity of human life (For Minnesotans, it’s 2 pm at the State Capitol).
  • take time to pray with compassion for mothers who are considering abortion right now and for God’s peace to to be understood and accepted in the hearts of men and women who have been responsible for an abortion.
  • remember that no sin is too great for God to forgive. Jesus paid for it already for you or anyone who turns to him with faith.
  • read the short booklet about abortion, free at the Desiring God website


May God bless this day to you for his sake among the babies–for the sake of the great name of the creator of all human beings.


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Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Happy birthday, dear Johnny

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Monday, December 26th, 2011

Christmas week

May you too find some lovely goodies to dip into



For us, this is a week of celebrating the birth of our Saviour with family–lots of family. Yesterday it was with my mother and with our son Barnabas and his family. Today a bunch of my siblings and their families descend. That means lots of food and visiting and cousins reconnecting.

So blogging may be sparse for a few days. I pray that your own Jesus celebration may stretch out in some way through these days.

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