A Daughter Named Rebecca

Weddings, Vests, and Love

The email exchange between my bonus daughter Rebecca and me started innocently enough: We’d ordered her father’s tuxedo for the big day and it seemed the order wasn’t for the vest and tie that Rebecca had described to us. So I was trying to clarify what color those accessories should be.

The exchange turned into an argument. A ridiculous, back-and-forth argument that flamed big and wounded as it flung itself across broadband connections. “Caps lock” keys engaged and nails tapped furiously at keyboards.

I don’t like to fight. But I felt I had a point worth winning to make. So I pressed on.

So did she.

Finally, the emails stopped. But we had no resolution. Fuming and shaking, I rose from my desk and took a walk. Elaine and I never fought like that, I thought. Ever.

Elaine had grown in my womb. I held her as she gazed upon the earth for the first time. Rebecca was my bonus daughter–a welcome part of the package deal that came with her dad when I married him in 2007. How could grown kids be so much work?

Soon I returned to my desk. I wasn’t angry anymore. I felt drained, whipped, foolish. Rebecca was 24 when I married her father. And she came with her own package of life lived, of dreams, of hurts. I’d promised to love his children as I loved my own daughter. Nothing about today’s exchange felt loving.

Later that day, I got into my truck to drive to an appointment. My radio spoke to me:
“Do you have a daughter named Rebecca? Call us now to play our Family Name Game. Brag on your daughter named Rebecca and you’ll win $95 for yourself and $95 for your favorite charity. So if you have a daughter named Rebecca, call now!”

My eyes filled as I drove. I thought about the year she’d lived with us while she tried to figure out some important stuff. I thought about nights she and I sat late on the deck, talking, listening. I thought about a salmon dinner we’d gleefully shared when her fish-hating dad had been away on business. I thought about a birthday when she’d kicked me out of my kitchen so I wouldn’t help prepare food for a party in my honor. I thought about her face, dark and somber as she greeted me at my mother’s funeral.

“Yes,” I whispered to the radio. “I do have a daughter named Rebecca. And she’s loving and smart and big-hearted and she’s getting married very soon.” And when I could have shown grace, I showed anger.

Later that evening I sent her a text message. “Vests and ties for dads should be all squared away now. I am sorry today got so out of hand…when can we get together for wine and peace talks? Love u.”

My phone sat silent until bedtime. I dragged myself upstairs with a hurting heart, not wanting to sleep with the mess I’d made still strewn across our lives.

The next morning, just as I arrived at work, a text arrived:
“Thanks. I’m sorry too. Talk to you soon.”

Yes, I have a daughter named Rebecca. And moms and daughters–even bonus moms and bonus daughters–can recover from an occasional silly argument. Because they love each other.

13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (NASB)


  1. I love your honesty. we all get a little crazy, but it's good to sort it all out in the end. And those we fight with all have names and are loved by God.

    And yes, they are forgiven.

  2. My "bonus" daughter-in-law is still at odds with me, even though I asked forgiveness and she said all is forgiven. She shows it by staying home when our son brings our grandsons for a visit. All I can do is love her and pray for her attitude. I am happy you and your Rebecca are back on track.

  3. David,
    Thank you. It's one of the few things I can control, isn't it…my own honesty?

  4. Hazel,
    I will join you in that prayer. I'm sorry.

  5. shrinkingthecamel.com

    Thanks for your example of a humble heart. Life sure does get messy at times, doesn't it? It takes a big heart to be the one to take the first step of asking forgiveness. I really appreciate your post today.

  6. Thanks, Bradley. What humility I have I came by the hard way. 🙂

  7. What a touching story. I'm blaming all of it on the wedding instead of either (or both) of you. Weddings can be so stressful!

    Dear Heavenly Father: Thank You so much for Sheila and the person you made–and are making her–to be. Thank You that she can "spot" You even in difficult times. I pray, Father, that You will continue to work inside her relationship with Rebecca. I pray, too, for Rebecca's special day: that everything would go according to (or better than!) Rebecca's plan, and I pray for this union, that You would bless it and help it to last in happiness. Amen.

  8. Brandee,
    Thank you! Your prayer brought tears to me.

  9. And you–the bonus mom. What a gift to be given such a special person, for both of you. Your listening heart of grace is a lesson for me too, Sheila. And I love seeing your girl's happy face–even if that photo is a big tease!

  10. Laura:

    Photos of the wedding will be available on Facebook on October 15!

    She is very special indeed. I always wanted 6 children. God gave me one to bring into the world. My marriage to Rich and the kids' marriages have given me six more on earth and one in heaven–and seven beautiful grandchildren.

    I am the most blessed person I know.

  11. This was simply stunning, Sheila. (And aren't you tricky with that wedding dress photo)

    Our God is a healer and reconciler. And He does love us enough to teach us humility–even though it's painful.

    Can't wait to see the wedding pics.

    And…you have your blog on Kindle???!!! So impressed!

  12. Sheila-

    As the one who birthed the Family Name Game I wanted to share how much your post touched those of us at the radio station. Even at a successful station we can be isolated from the impact of our programming, sometimes wondering if anyone is listening. Thank you for giving us another story to share.

  13. Nancy,
    Thank you. Photos will go up promptly after the wedding. Til then, that dress is top-secret!

    Healer, Teacher, everything we need, He is.

    Putting a blog on Kindle is so easy even I can do it. L.L. Barkat gave me the idea–or I swiped it from her.

  14. John,
    Thank you for coming by! 95.9 KFSH is definitely my favorite station. You guys get me to and from work every day.

    Funny how much good our God can wring from one minor argument, isn't it? He never wastes a hurt.