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Inexpressible Joy

Isabella Spry and her joyful aesthetic near the Grand Rapids Downtown Market

Writing this blog is really liberating, no boss to dictate the subject matter, but also daunting—no boss to dictate the subject matter. Freedom can be like that, exciting but sometimes overwhelming. In the silly lingo of my teenage daughter, “It do be like that.”

Structure facilitates order and minimizes chaos, though it may stifle creativity. This reminds me of the very first problem with choice. I can make almost ANY kind of pie I could possibly want! But I want the one kind of pie I am instructed not to make.

I have come to appreciate limitations. One reason I am drawn to Costco is because when I want an item, there aren’t 15 of the same from which to choose, so shopping is streamlined.

Which begs the question, if we had less in our refrigerators and cupboards (my architect brother, Eric, insists I mean “cabinets”), would we be more interested in eating what’s there? Don’t we all do this? Whether it’s our food or the hundreds of media outlets—there’s nothing to eat, nothing to watch. We’re spoiled on abundance.

On to the topic here…the last thing I did before beginning this week’s blog was call a social worker. I had to leave a voicemail: “Hi Christy, you might remember me from five years ago, when you searched for my birth mother. I’d like to do the same for my birth father.”

I am adopted and have made two attempts to meet my birth mother, both unsuccessful. The first, in my early 20s—right before the advent of the internet, before I was a mother—had the social worker taking serious heat from my maternal grandmother, very angry at being found.

The second effort, five years ago, resulted in a social worker finding my birth mother and learning she did not want to meet. I was able to give the intermediary a letter for her, in which I thanked my mother for giving me life, choosing to place me for adoption. I shared that I was blessed with a wonderful family and included a photo of her four beautiful grandchildren.

Why now this desire to reach out to my birth father? Just as with my birth mother, I don’t consider this a “yearning”. I am complete without a re-connection to either of them. But the heart has its reasons that sometimes the head doesn’t fully comprehend.

I’m pretty certain, he, like my birth mother, was a college student at the time of my conception. I’m almost 50, so my father would be around 70, if he’s even still alive.

My own amazing—chosen—father, Bennie, passed on eight years ago, maybe his absence has made emotional room for me to explore the possibility of this other relationship. I know I am not looking for a replacement or an enhancement on what I had, this is unnecessary and impossible.

Shawn with her wonderful father, Bennie, at her high school graduation open house ~ 1988

I realize that, just like with my birth mother, a reunion may not happen. It may also turn out to be sad or comically bad. My father could be the friendly, wide-eyed, inebriated man in line in front of me at the grocery store last week (true story) who shouted in English that he only spoke French and proceeded to take out a tape measure, declared he was high, and attempted to determine whether the roast he was purchasing would fit in the crockpot that he was going to use on the deck.

Whoever my birth father may be—Richard Gere (you don’t know), Mr. Regular or Mr. Broken—I’m feeling up to a challenge, as that is what this may well turn out to be. The older I get, the less I fear the unknown.

This may be why I am embracing the idea of fostering children. In a mental cost-benefit analysis, not taking this risk seems like a losing proposition. I believe there is much more to be gained. In my best British accent: Let’s go on an adventure Darling!

Today, as I contemplated my own adoption, it clearly occurred to me, for the very first time: I was a foster child! Albeit brief, it is part of my story.

So many questions! Did the foster parents that took me home know I would only be with them five weeks? Did my cries seem normal or forlorn? How did they feel about me and my tiny infant-ness? Was I the first foster child they had, one of many to come, or the only? Did my presence bring joy, my departure sadness?

I wonder if I could ever meet THEM? Maybe this should be part of my journey, to seek them out, to say “THANK YOU” in person. Maybe it will be?!

In the meantime, as I anticipate what becomes of this voicemail about my biological father, life goes on. In Michigan, spring is in the air, the crocuses are up and the trees are beginning to bud. It’s almost Passover/Matzah and I want to spring clean and get all the chametz/bread crumbs out from under my stove.

Pesach past, 2018, at our gracious host's home, the Halterman Family

I ask our Father in heaven for our daily bread, followed immediately by a request to remove the leaven from my life at the same rate which I am willing to forebear other’s. Resurrection Day is near, reminding me of the perennial nature of life, death, renewal and the awesome cost and beauty of our redemption.

The ultimate offering has been made! And I have the best Father anyone can ever have, Abba, who has chosen and adopted me as his daughter. My heart is full to bursting with this inexpressible and glorious joy!!

Whoever your earthly father is or was—biological, foster or adoptive, awful, mediocre, or like mine, the best one that could be had—you simply must embrace Yeshua/Jesus, in order to have shalom/peace with THE ULTIMATELY GOOD FATHER.


Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. John 14:9b-11

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:3

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