A Birthday Celebrated, an Anniversary Celebration Fulfilled, and Other Assorted Adventures in Life and COVID

Personal reflections on this moment in our lives

Timothy Paul Jones
5 min readSep 22, 2021


That year seems like a decade ago.

None of us had ever heard of COVID-19, and few of us would have imagined that a submicroscopic life form could shut down the world.

Now we have, and it did.

In June 2019, my wife and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary — but there wasn’t much celebration at the time. One of our daughters had suffered a severe concussion, and the fallout from that concussion consumed every particle of emotional energy that we possessed. Somewhere in the midst of that, I paid for a family cruise to Alaska to celebrate our anniversary. But then, we postponed the cruise to care for our child.

In June 2019, it made perfect sense to postpone the cruise until August 2020.

After all, what could really change in one year?

Pretty much everything, as it turns out.

COVID-19 shut down every cruise line, but the disappointment of missing a cruise never entered our minds. That’s because, in spring 2020, the virus nearly took the life of our oldest daughter.

Between one daughter’s concussion and another daughter’s coronavirus recovery, there are entire months in 2020 of which I have no recollection. All that I recall is pressing day by day through the dull ache of a sleepless haze, and some of this haze still clings to me a year later. I feel far older than I ever have before.

Now, it is 2021. At long last, the cruise we purchased in 2019 is slated to sail from Seattle — pending our family’s successful passage of a coronavirus test at the dock on Saturday morning.

Our first day here in the Emerald City coincided with our youngest child’s thirteenth birthday.


This birthday has made my wife and me the parents of three teenagers simultaneously.

Thirteen years old.

What that means for us is that, thirteen years ago this week, a woman whose name we may never know brought our youngest child into the world. There were other options, whether legal or illegal, that might have made more sense for this woman in Ethiopia to choose apart from the grace of God. And yet, that mother chose to give birth to this girl, and for that I am forever grateful. No matter what other choices that birthmother may or may not have made, we honor her, and so we should.

But it was not from that birthmother or the child-care center in Ethiopia that our child came to us.

All four of our children are survivors, and so is this youngest one.

Each one of them was adopted by a family that later changed their minds about the adoption.

Adoption is traumatic in the best of circumstances. Adoption followed by re-adoption induces an entirely different level of trauma.

This is not a complaint. It’s not the children’s fault. Sometimes, it’s not even wholly the fault of the families whose adoptive efforts failed.

But these children are trauma survivors nonetheless, and their resilience is beautiful and messy and heroic and inconsistent and inspiring and painful and difficult. Regardless of which of these phases we are living at any particular time, this is our life.

Once I began to navigate my life as someone whose household includes four trauma survivors, I learned to live with far more grace.

For several years before that, my inner life oscillated between self-centered exhilaration and frustrated self-pity when it came to my parenting. Sometimes, it still does. But, far more often, I give grace, rest in grace, and recognize that we will only get through this by grace. Success doesn’t look like “normal”; success looks like “better by God’s grace than we were before” and that is enough.

Which brings me back to this beautiful thirteen-year-old who has been part of our family these past four years.

She is fierce and quick-witted, and I adore her. She is slowly learning to receive love and to find release from the wall-building fears that keep her from being truly known. It’s going to take time, and so we make the time and we confess and we forgive and we love and we celebrate every little victory along the way.

This is the life that God has set before us, and it is good.

And so, this week that we celebrate this child’s thirteenth birthday, my wife and I finally celebrate our twenty-fifth year of marriage — a little more than two years late.

So be it.

Even in the unexpected delays and the pains for which you could never have prepared, there is joy.



Timothy Paul Jones

Professor. Pastor. Bestselling author of WHY SHOULD I TRUST THE BIBLE?, THE DA VINCI CODEBREAKER, and more. http://www.timothypauljones.com/books/