Christmas 1998

Another year closes and we give heart felt thanks that we are all still alive. Paul, Rebecca, Matthew and I were hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park and got caught in a flash flood that nearly swept me away and came within seconds of drowning all four of us. Matthew pulled me out, as the water rose 5 feet in the same number of seconds. Had we been a hundred yards further up or downstream, we would have had no chance to get to high ground. We spent the night huddled under a tree in the cold rain without shelter, dry clothes and fighting hypothermia. Dawn came much too slowly and we still had to hike out six miles, past the bodies of two men who were not as lucky as we were. The picture was taken while celebrating Rebecca’s and Jon’s birthday and our survival. We had much to be joyous about.

Paul continues to meet the challenges of his job at New Century Energies, managing a service territory that encompasses a broad area across the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. He is diligent in making 6 am visits to our gorgeous Silverthorne Rec Center, located right next door, to swim and run and preserve the body recently welcomed into the AARP.

I have opened an adoption agency and am kept busy finding homes for the children that Paul and I can not adopt. Spending three weeks in Nepal and India visiting orphanages early this year was a high point. Paul and I are going to Hong Kong and Beijing in the spring. Then he is coming home while I go on to visit orphanages in Cambodia and Vietnam. E-mail me ( and I will send you travel notes. My child and family private practice is also going well. I am as busy as I want to be, which means I have time to do luxurious reading, nap in the sun and pot funky things on my wheel.

Tragedy averted by mere seconds reminds us of the sacredness of life and the love, in all its facets, that we bring to it. The children we brought together in our attempt to create a family carry on in creating lives filled with love.

Rebecca, 25 (seated far left), is in Maryland, risking the neck we worked so hard to keep safe all these years. Weekdays she looks just like any other junior aerospace engineer, crunching numbers and building satellites. Weeknights and weekends she becomes a party animal, rock climbing, hiking, camping and dancing until all hours of the morning. I want to say to her, “Don’t party so much, don’t climb so high,” but what do I know about her hectic pace and where all her newly developing skills are leading her?

Jonathan, 24 (seated 2nd from left), continues to live at home, help me out, work at a clothing store and dream of becoming a flight attendant. I want to say to him, “Quit dreaming, you are not what the airlines are looking for, get on with your life,” but what do I know about his dreams and what wonderful places they will take him if I would just shut up and step aside?

Matthew 22 (standing next to Paul), drives a bus and continues to haul the dead, dying and crippled out of the mountains as a senior member of the search and rescue team. I want to say to him, “Go to college, what kind of life does a high school graduate have?,” but what do I know about the valuable lessons he is learning right now and that they are probably more useful to him then a bachelor’s degree?

Ruben, 22 (seated 2nd from right), enjoys cooking at a local restaurant and living on the edge. I want to say to him, “Manage your money better, don’t drink so much,” but what do I know about the personal growth he is experiencing and how it will stand him in good stead in years to come?

James, 21, is in prison, close enough for us to visit. He is getting the graphic arts training he used to dream about. His work is valued and he enjoys doing it. I want to say to him, “Hold on to your dreams, learn all you can, when you get out don’t fall in the trap of crazy companions and crazy behavior which got you in prison in the first place,” and I do!

Robert, 21, is also in prison, for three years. I want to say to him, “Do what the officials tell you to do, stop arguing with them, it only extends your jail time when you are so uncooperative,” but how can I predict what is best for him and his future?

Rachel, 20 (standing center), is at the University of Kansas in Manhattan, Kansas, with Kelly (standing far left). They both have graduate assistantships and are pursuing their master’s degree in sociology. I want to say to her, “You are only 20 years old, you are too young to be working on a master’s degree and to have chosen a life time partner, slow down,” but she is only doing what Paul and I did so how can I find fault with that?

Jesse, 19, is living and working in Denver and is the first to present us with a grandchild. Both mother and child are in the custody of social services due to the mother’s age and having left home. I want to say to him, “The world is not out to get you. Learn to trust. There are many people out there who can help you,” but what do I know about survival skills in his world?

Amber, 17, is a junior, living with her birth mother in Denver. I want to say to her, “Come home, our house is better, your mother is not around enough to help you, supervise you,” but she is home and who can quibble with her contentment?

Corey, 17 (seated far right), is a sophomore, working at McDonald’s. I want to say to him, “Do your homework so you can graduate from high school with a diploma instead of just a certificate of completion, do your chores right the first time,” but how do I know he is not doing the absolute best he can?

Jesus left his parents at an early age and went to the temple to seek out his own way in life. As an adult he went even farther afield, leaving his mother and her words of admonition in the dust. She wanted to say, “Don’t say those things, don’t go there, don’t do that. You are going to get yourself killed.” She was right. Sometimes being right is irrelevant. Jesus didn’t spend a lot of time preaching about what the prevailing norms said was right. He spent most of his time preaching about what was loving. He took his life and did what he needed to do with it. So Mary did the only thing she could do. She loved him exactly as he was.

Fill your days with loving those around you exactly as they are. Err on the side of grace, rather than the side of law. Turn others loose to dream their own dreams. God didn’t clone Jesus, and as great and wonderful as each of us is, we don’t need clones of us!

Peach and Joy Now and Always,
Paul and Deborah